alderleaf mountain mahogany, more...
[Cercocarpus parvifolius var. hirsutissimus C.K. Schneid., more]
Martin 1950, Vanden Huevel 2002, Wiggins 1964, Benson and Darrow 1981, Wiggins 1964
Common Name: alderleaf mountain mahogany Duration: Perennial Nativity: Native Lifeform: Tree General: Shrubs or rarely trees usually 2-4 m tall but can be up to 8 m, with smooth, pale gray to reddish gray bark, older branches flecked with scales, younger twigs glabrous to sparsely puberulent. Leaves: Winter-deciduous, alternate, and simple, on petioles 2.5-6 mm long, blades obovate, ovate, to elliptic or orbiculate, 1-5 cm long, cuneate at base, rounded apically and serrate above the middle; sparsely appressed villous in youth, soon glabrate, dark green with impressed veins above, paler and puberulent with dark green veins below. Flowers: Cream to pinkish, solitary or in axillary clusters of 2-3, on pedicels 1-4 mm long; with 5 sepals but lacking petals; hypanthium finely silky-tomentose, the limb 4-6 mm in diameter, soon deciduous, the tube 8-16 mm in fruit, flared, with pinkish lobes, containing 20+ excluded sepals and 1 pistil. Fruits: Achene with white, feathery, twisted style 5-12 cm long. Ecology: Found on dry slopes and along washes from 1,000-7,000 ft (305-2134 m); flowers March-July. Distribution: Most of western US, TX north to MT and ID, south to CA ; south to c MEX. Notes: Distinguished by being an erect, often relatively tall, slender shrub with leaves possessing many veins radiating from the center and distinct teeth on the upper 2/3; the small, quickly-decidious, cup-like, petal-less flowers followed by only a few fruits with long, twisted, plumose tails. There is not a strict consensus as to the phylogenetics of this species complex. The suggestion is this complex is fairly young, which accounts of the complexities for its taxonomy. Historically, the morphological distinction is that in C. betuloides the leaves are thicker and finely dentate with triangular teeth, rather than thin and coarsely dentate. C. montanus is the only species in the genus with deciduous leaves; the others are evergreen. Ethnobotany: Used for stomach aid, to hasten postpartum recovery, as a life medicine, a laxative, forage, a dye, for brooms, building material, in arrows, fuel, and in a variety of ceremonies. Etymology: Cercocarpus comes from Greek kerkos, tail and karpos, fruit, while montanus means of the mountains. Synonyms: Cercocarpus glaberoides Editor: SBuckley 2010, FSCoburn 2015, AHazelton 2015