Curl Leaf Mahogany

  • Scientific name: Cercocarpus Ledifolius
  • Common on arid slopes and sidehills of the Great Basin
  • Can take on tree form with single trunk and many branches
  • Flowers May to July and produces very aromatic flowers

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Curl Leaf Mahogany (Cercocarpus ledifoliu) or “Tree” Mahogany is a native evergreen shrub common to the arid slopes and sidehills of the Great Basin. It is a perennial evergreen. In it’s shrubby form it may have many small trunks, but in the right circumstances will take on a tree form with a single trunk and many branches.

Curl Leaf Mahogany (Cercocarpus ledifoliu) averages 4-15 feet tall but trees as tall as 35 feet have been documented. It generally grows in patches or small “forests”, often comprising a considerable portion of the biomass where it resides. It flowers May to July and produces very aromatic flowers.

Curlleaf mountain mahogany is found on hills, rocky slopes, and rocky ridges, and in canyons. It is somewhat shade tolerant. It is adapted to a wide range of soil textures, most abundant in dry coarse-textured soils. Snowberry, Rocky Mountain juniper, big sagebrush.

In mature stands, much of curlleaf mountain-mahogany foliage is out of reach of browsing animals but provides excellent winter cover. It is good forage for all classes of browsing animals in both summer and winter; it is one of the few browse species that meets or exceeds the protein requirements for wintering big game animals.

Because of its tolerance to heat and drought, curlleaf mountain-mahogany can be used for water-efficient landscaping in arid environments.

The wood of curlleaf mountain mahogany is so hard and dense that it will not float. It provides excellent fuel, producing intense heat and burning for long periods. Because curlleaf mountain-mahogany wood burns slowly, it was the preferred charcoal wood used for smelting ores in the nineteenth century. It is also highly prized as a barbecue fuel.

The Goshute Indians of Utah made bows from this wood.

***Click on the “Quick Plant Facts” tab above for more information.

(Cercocarpus ledifoliu)

Curl Leaf Mahogany USU Fact Sheet

PDF version of "Curl Leaf Mountain Mahogany in the Landscape"

Prepared By: Heidi Kratsch, Extension Ornamental Horticulture Specialist
Graham Hunter, Research Associate, Center for Water Efficient Landscaping

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Helpful Links

Additional information about this product can be found on the academic websites linked below.


Many plants have more than one common and scientific name. We've listed a few of them below.

  • Curl Leaf Mahogany
  • Cercocarpus ledifolius
  • Western Juniper
  • Curlleaf Mountain
  • Mahogany
  • Mountain Snowberry

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