Plant of the Month

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The smooth, white bark of this drought-tolerant, long-lived plant is a beautiful benefit of this cold-hardy, heat-tolerant, tree-sized shrub. Mountain Mahogany is useful for erosion control on slopes, as a screen or border, or as a specimen plant.

Mountain Mahogany
Cercocarpus betuloides

  • Plant Form: Evergreen Shrub
  • Water Use: Very Low
  • Mature Size: 8-15 ft. tall x 10-12 ft. wide
  • Exposure: Full Sun, Part Sun
  • Bloom Time: Spring (Mar-May)
  • Native to: California, Oregon, Baja California (below 6,000 feet)
  • Hardiness: Cold hardy to -30°F 

Mountain Mahogany is a large, upright, evergreen shrub or small tree with beautiful, smooth, light gray bark. Small, wedge-shaped leaves with toothed edges resemble birch leaves, giving this plant its other name, Birch-leaf Mountain Mahogany. Its small, cream-colored, rose-like flowers are inconspicuous, but its seeds create a spectacular display in late summer and fall. Each seed has a feather-like tail that curls up like a corkscrew as it ripens; when backlit, the abundant seeds create an ethereal glow to the whole plant. Its roots are nitrogen-fixing, making the plant good for revegetation. Mountain Mahogany tolerates drought, poor soils, extreme cold and heat, and is free from pests. It does appreciate some supplemental water, especially during the summer. Useful alone as a specimen plant or massed along parkways.This long-lived plant can be pruned into a compact shrub, hedge, or tree form. Great on slopes for erosion control, as a screen or border, or as an accent.

Check out our  “Garden Tasks” for November