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Birch-leaf Mountain Mahogany

Cercocarpus montanus glaber
(Cercocarpus betuloides)

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Pen & Ink © by Michael Plagens

Drawn from live specimen observed in the Superstition Mts., Pinal Co., AZ. 29 Feb 1992.

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RANGE: Where the Upland Sonoran Desert of Arizona meets the Interior Chaparral. Mostly above 1200 m elevation. Mountain mahogany can also be found at higher altitudes in pinyon-juniper and even marginal ponderosa pine habitats.

LEAVES: Tough, leathery leaves are orbicular or wedge-shaped with the margin of the distal half finely toothed. Underside veins prominent.

FRUIT: An elongated nut-like achene is tipped with a conspicuous feathery plume several centimeters in length. Each flower has one pistil.

mature fruit of mountain mahogany

Observed in the southern foothills of the Bradshaw Mountains, Yavapai Co., Arizona. 24 May 2009.

SHRUB: A medium to large shrub in Arizona. The shrubs can regrow after a fire because the underground root-crowns generally survive. Thus the presence of mountain mahogany may perpetuate a fire cycle typical of chaparral habitat.

flowers of mountain mahogany FLOWERS: Yellowish-cream flowers are quite fragrant appear early spring. There are no petals but the rim of the tubular hypanthium is flared and flower-like. One to three dozen stamens.

UNARMED: The twigs are stiff but lack thorns.

Rosaceae -- Rose Family

More Information:

Sonoran Desert Field Guide
Sonoran Desert Places
Sonoran Desert Naturalist Home Page


Copyright Michael J. Plagens, 1999-2010