Mountain Mahogany – Native Shrub of Wyoming

Native Shrub for Drought Tolerant Landscaping

There are two common Mountain Mahogany species in Wyoming;  Curlleaf Mountain Mahogany (Cercocarpus ledifolius) and True Mountain Mahogany (Cercocarpus montanus).  Both would make nice ornamental shrubs or small  trees in low water use landscapes.  The seeds of C. montanus, shown here, are expertly designed for catching on passers by, working their way into hair, wool, fur, or shoes to travel to distant parts. I would think once it lands, that corkscrew like shape would also help it to burrow into the soil to await the next spring.

True Mountain Mahogany
True Mountain Mahogany Seeds

The year these photos were taken was 2008, apparently the moisture these plants received was perfectly timed for a very successful seed crop.

Hillside with Cercocarpus montanus
Hillside with Cercocarpus montanus

Cercocarpus ledifolius gets larger in these parts.  I love the way it is formed by the wind and tough conditions under which it grows- natural bonsai.

Cercocarpus ledifolius
Cercocarpus ledifolius, Curlleaf Mountain Mahogany

Both species have very hard wood, and I am guessing pioneers from the eastern US are  responsible for its moniker. Native Americans made tools and bows from these small trees. Both species are also important winter browse for deer and  antelope.

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