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Cercocarpus betuloides

Chumash: pitš (BOI) Español: Palo Fierro

Plant Description

Category: Shrub or small tree

Origin: Western United States

Evergreen: Yes

Flower Color: White/Cream

Bloomtime: Spring

Height: Up to 30ft

Width: Up to 20ft 

Esposure: Full to Partial Sun

Drought Tolerant: Moderate

Irrigation: Some water in heat of summer

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Mountain Mahogany, is not a true mahogany. This shrubby, slow-growing tree belongs in the Rosaceae, or rose family; the common name derives from the dense, heavy wood of this tree, which sinks in water. Although the wood is not suitable for lumber due to its shortness and twistedness, Native Americans (due to its strength and durability) used it for small, handmade items such as bows, spearheads, and special sticks for extricating underground roots.


Native Americans also used the tree medicinally, especially the bark, in the treatment of various illnesses. The Dine' use the twigs with their white flowers as prayer sticks. It is good forage for browsing animals (which may partly explain the naked trunks and bushy tops) and provides winter cover for wildlife. It is also a good fuel for fires. It is well adapted to fire areas, the root stock will survive to sprout the following year. It was also known as Palo fiero (iron wood or stick, in Spanish)

For Additional Information About this Plant

Key to Native Plant Symbols 

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