The Mountain Mahogany is a shrub or small deciduous tree that grows in the California chaparral. It can grow to be 12 ft. (4 m.) tall. The bark is grayish, scaly, and checkered. The twigs of this tree are rigged and the lateral twigs often spur-like, bright red -brown, and at first hairy, finally ashen or reddish gray and smooth. It's crown grows very wide, and it is a skinny wiry tree.
Mahogany has lobed leaves, and single small dry fruits that have a feathery tails on the end. The leaves grow alternately on short stems, and are lobed, leathery, greenish-gray in color with straight veins. Soft fuzzy hairs cover both the top and bottom of the leaves. The flowers are small and grow singly or on fascicles at the end of short spurs. They flower from March to June.
The main adaption is dwarfing (getting smaller to survive). It dwarfs because of severe drought, changes of climate, and the poor soil. This tree seems to be invincible because it cannot be killed by an axe (it cannot be killed by taking chops at it), drought or fire, so it has been given the name "hardtack". Fires usually kill the top of the tree but the trees don't burn as quickly as other shrubs in the chaparral. They sprouts new growth from their root crown and grow quickly after a fire. The mountain mahogany loses its leaves during the hot, dry season to conserve water.
The Navahos use the twigs with their white flowers as prayer sticks. The handles of Navaho distaffs are made of this wood probably because it does not splinter easily. It is hard so the Navahos make dice from it. (info source: blueplanetbiomes.org)
Genus - Cercocarpus
Species - Montanus
Common name - Mountain Mahogany
Pre-Treatment - Required
Hardiness zones - 5 - 8
Height - 13' / 4 m
Plant type - Shrub
Vegetation type - Deciduous
Exposure - Full Sun
Growth rate - Medium
Soil PH - Acid, neutral, alkaline
Soil type - Light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained
Water requirements - Drought Tolerant, Average Water
Landscape uses - Can tolerate maritime exposure
Germination rate - 79%
Bloom season - May to June
Leaf / Flower color - Green / --
|Germination||1. Soak seeds 12-24 hours in a warm water. |
2. Mix the soaked seeds with moist vermiculite or sterile sand, close in airtight zip lock bag and cold/moist stratify for 60 days in a fridge (+2 - +4C). The seeds should not be frozen or in a wet medium.
3. Sow seeds on the surface of a Well drained seed sowing mix at about 20°C.
When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in a cold frame until they are at least 15cm tall before planting them into their permanent positions. Grow the plants on for two years in the seedbed and then plant them out into their permanent positions in the winter.