True Mountain Mahogany
Alderleaf Mountain Mahogany
Life Span: Perennial
shrub or small tree, growing 2 to 20 feet tall, with upright or
spreading branches. It flowers May to June, and fruits mature from
July to September. It reproduces from seed and by root sprouts.
are either solitary or in clusters of 2 to 3 flowers on short spur
branchlets. They are tube-shaped, greenish-yellow in color, and
Fruits are achenes, which are hard, narrow, and sharp-pointed. The
seed is tipped with a persistent feathery style. Seed production
is sporadic - going as long as 10 years with no seed production.
Seeds are wind-dispersed, and corkscrew into the ground with the
are alternate, oval shaped, and saw-toothed at the tip and wedge-shaped
at the base, resembling a birch leaf. The top of the leaf is green
to grayish-green with a tinge of yellow, with the underside being
lighter and hairy. The leaf has 3-10 prominent veins.
are stout, rigid, and reddish in color. There are roughened leaf
scars on the twigs, often having short lateral spurs. The bark is
thin, and gray to brown in color.
mountain mahogany occurs on rocky bluffs, mountainsides, rimrock,
breaks, and in canyons and open woodlands, being very common in
swales where snow lays during the winter. It grows at elevations
between 5,000 and 7,000 feet. It is heat and drought tolerant. It
is also somewhat shade tolerant, but grows better without an overgrowing
abundant on sunny sites with coarse, shallow, well-drained soils.
oak, serviceberry, bitterbrush,
mountain mahogany is good to excellent forage for cattle, sheep,
and goats. It is extremely valuable as winter browse for deer and
bighorn sheep. The twigs are palatable yearlong and are grazed heavily.
The leaves may contain cyanogenetic glycoside, which may cause hydrocyanic
It is a good source of cover for livestock, big game, and many small
mammals and birds.
American Indians used wood from Birchleaf Mountain Mahogany to make
tools and war clubs. Hopi Indians used the bark to make a reddish-brown
dye for leather.