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Cercocarpus betuloides, the birchleaf mountain mahogany, is a species of flowering plant in the rose family, Rosaceae. It typically grows in dry areas in the foothills and mountains of California, often in chaparral communities, and in other parts of the Southwestern United States and Baja California.
This shrub is typically size of three to five meters (9 to 15 feet) in height. The etymology of the genus name is the Greek kerkos ("tail"), referring to the tail-like appearance of the fruit; and carpus ("fruit"), thus, "fruit with tail". Betula is the birch genus, and the species name refers to the birch-like leaves.
The leaves are distinctive in that they have smooth edges from the base to about half way up, then are wavy or toothed to the rounded tip. The white flowers are small, clustered, and mildly scented. The fruit is a tubular achene with the long, plumelike flower style still attached. The reddish wood of the shrub is very hard and was used by Californian Native American peoples to make arrows, fishing spears, and digging sticks.
- C. betuloides var. betuloides, rangewide
- C. betuloides var. blancheae – Catalina mahogany, island mountain mahogany, limited to California, especially the Channel Islands
- C. betuloides var. macrourus – few flowered mountain mahogany, California and Oregon
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- Cercocarpus betuloides. Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN).
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- Cercocarpus betuloides var. blancheae. The Jepson Manual, 2012.
- Cercocarpus betuloides var. blancheae. CalFlora.
- Cercocarpus betuloides var. macrourus. The Jepson Manual, 2012.
- Cercocarpus betuloides var. macrourus. CalFlora.
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