Curl leaf mountain mahogany

Cercocarpus ledifolius

Mountain Mahogany
Photo: Gerald and Buff Corsi © California Academy of Sciences
Rose (Rosaceae)
Leaves about 1 in long x ¼ in wide; evergreen; edges roll under
Tiny flowers are solitary or in auxiliary clusters. Fruit is achene (dandelion like) with long, silky plume-like tail.
Mid to late summer; along concrete ramp from tram station; upper Chino Canyon
Red-brown, furrowed bark is covered with persistent scales; inner bark yields red to purple dye; the roots, red dye. The bark was made into tea for colds and lung trouble. A young plant was pulled up whole, powered, mixed with water and used as a laxative.
Open, dry, rocky areas; exposed, south-facing slopes; dry rocky ridges; 5000’ to slightly above 10,000’
A small, single-stemmed shrub; can grow 6 to 30 feet tall. The wood was used for fish spears, arrow shafts and digging tools. The common name “desert mountain mahogany” refers to its mountainous, arid habitat and reddish-brown wood. The name “curl-leaf” describes the evergreen leaves that roll under along the edges. Also known as “ironwood” which applies to it close-grained, very dense wood, exceedingly hard and heavy.
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