Friday, October 28, 2011

Curls and spirals: curl-leaf mountain mahogany in the Mt. Rose Wilderness

These curls and spirals belong to a curl-leaf mountain mahogany shrub in the Mt. Rose Wilderness, southeast of Reno, Nevada. Near the intersection at the dry rocky ridge where the side-trip trail to Church Pond intersects with the Jone-Whites-Loop-Trail, an assembly of small trees of this ever-green can be found. Curl-leaf mountain mahogany is native to areas between the Pacific Coast to the Rocky Mountains in North America, typically at elevations between 4,000 to 9,000 feet [1-4]. A few plants can be found in the Wilbur D. May Arboretum in Reno. There, the species identification sign tells us that the dense mahogany wood will not float in water.

Heavy wood, fluffy fruits: the long, white, hairy tails that curl up in all kinds of shapes are the fruits, which can be admired during fall season. These twisted hairy tails come off easily and as you look around the shrub you can find surrounding soil and rocks covered with them.

Curl-leaf mountain mahogany (Cercocarpus ledifolius) is a species of the rose family (Rosaceae). The leaves are lanceolate and their edges sometimes curl under. A shrub of curls, indeed!

References and further reading
[1] Cercocarpus ledifolius Nutt. - curl-leaf mountain mahogany:

[2] Curlleaf- Mountain-mahogany:
[3]Cercocarpus ledifolius:
[4] Peter Alden and Fred Heath: Field Guide to California. National Audubon Society, Chanticleer Press, 1998; page 127.

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