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Mountain mahogany

Cercocarpus betuloides


The genus Cercocarpus is a small group of plants containing about 13 species, all native to the western United States and Mexico, and particularly California. These are tough plants that are appreciated for their habitat and wildlife value in many plant communities. They have small leaves, tiny flowers and intriguing twisting seed plumes that are attractive when illuminated by sunlight. A few species, including this one, are occasionally grown in ornamental gardens among other native plants.

Mountain mahogany is a large evergreen shrub with a rambling branch habit that can grow 10-15 ft. tall and as wide. Medium green leaves grow to 1 in. and have distinctly toothed margins. Tiny yellow flowers occur in spring; large numbers of seeds and seed plumes mature in spring and summer and are very attractive when highlighted by sunlight. It is a slow grower when young compared to many other California native shrubs one might grow in a garden, but can be worth the wait.

Plant Type: Shrub, Native
Foliage Character: Evergreen
Habit: Upright, Sprawling, Mounding, Low-branching
Growth Rate: Moderate
Foliage Color: Medium green
Flower Color: Yellow
Flower Season: Spring
Soil Adaptations: Well-draining soil
Exposure Adaptations: Heat, Drought, All day sun
Function: Hummingbird plant, Background plant, Attracts butterflies, Wildlife value, Screening, Restoration
Height: 10 ft. – 15 ft.
Width: 10 ft. – 15 ft.

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