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Cercocarpus intricatus 12.jpg
C. ledifolius var. intricatus
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Rosids
Order: Rosales
Family: Rosaceae
Subfamily: Dryadoideae
Genus: Cercocarpus
Kunth [1]

Several, see text

Cercocarpus distribution.svg
  • Bertolonia Moc. & Sessé ex DC.

Cercocarpus, commonly known as mountain mahogany, is a small genus of at least nine species of nitrogen-fixing [2] flowering plants in the rose family, Rosaceae. They are native to the western United States and northern Mexico, where they grow in chaparral and semidesert habitats and climates, often at high altitudes. Several are found in the California chaparral and woodlands ecoregion.

Cercocarpus intricatus, Spring Mountains, southern Nevada (elevation about 2700 m)

The classification of Cercocarpus within the Rosaceae has been unclear. [3] [4] The genus has been placed in the subfamily Rosoideae, but is now placed in subfamily Dryadoideae. [5]

Members of the genus are deciduous shrubs or small trees, typically reaching heights of 3–6 m (9–18 ft) tall, but exceptionally up to 13 m (40 ft) high. C. montanus usually remains under 1 m (3 ft) high because of incessant browsing by elk and deer.

The name is derived from the Greek words κέρκος (kerkos), meaning "tail" and καρπός (karpos), meaning "fruit". It refers to the tail-like plume on the fruits. [6]



Cercocarpus comprises the following species: [7] [8] [9] [10] [11]

Species names with uncertain taxonomic status

The status of the following species and hybrids is unresolved: [7]

  • Cercocarpus antiquus Lesq.
  • Cercocarpus arizonicus M.E.Jones
  • Cercocarpus betulaefolius C.K.Schneid.
  • Cercocarpus betulaefolius Nutt. ex Hook.
  • Cercocarpus breviflorus S.Watson
  • Cercocarpus cuneatus Dorf
  • Cercocarpus fothergilloides Torr.
  • Cercocarpus harneyensis C.A.Arnold
  • Cercocarpus macrophyllus C.K.Schneid.
  • Cercocarpus miniscalchii (A.Massal.) Principi
  • Cercocarpus orestesi Knowlt.
  • Cercocarpus pallidus Wooton
  • Cercocarpus parviflorus Wooton
  • Cercocarpus parvifolius Nutt. ex Hook. & Arn.
  • Cercocarpus praefoliolosa R.W.Br.
  • Cercocarpus praeledifolius E.W.Berry
  • Cercocarpus ravenscragensis E.W.Berry
  • Cercocarpus treleasei C.K.Schneid.


  1. ^ "Genus: Cercocarpus Kunth". Germplasm Resources Information Network. United States Department of Agriculture. 2004-06-21. Archived from the original on 2012-10-23. Retrieved 2012-04-19.
  2. ^ http://web.uconn.edu/mcbstaff/benson/Frankia/Rosaceae.htm
  3. ^ Morgan, D.R., et al. (1994). Systematic and evolutionary implications of rbcL sequence variation in Rosaceae. American Journal of Botany. 81(7): 890–903.
  4. ^ Eriksson, T., et al. (2003). The phylogeny of Rosoideae (Rosaceae) based on sequences of the internal transcribed spacers (ITS) of nuclear ribosomal DNA and the trnL/F region of chloroplast DNA. International Journal of Plant Sciences. 164: 197–211.
  5. ^ Potter, D., et al. (2007). Phylogeny and classification of Rosaceae. Plant Systematics and Evolution. 266(1–2): 5–43.
  6. ^ Quattrocchi, Umberto (2000). CRC World Dictionary of Plant Names. I: A-C. CRC Press. p. 485. ISBN  978-0-8493-2675-2.
  7. ^ a b "The Plant List entry for Cercocarpus". The Plant List, v.1.1. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and the Missouri Botanical Garden. September 2013. Retrieved 15 December 2020.
  8. ^ Govaerts R. "Cercocarpus Kunth". Plants of the World Online. Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Retrieved 15 December 2020.
  9. ^ "Cercocarpus". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved 2012-04-19.
  10. ^ "GRIN Species Records of Cercocarpus". Germplasm Resources Information Network. United States Department of Agriculture. Archived from the original on 2009-01-20. Retrieved 2012-04-19.
  11. ^ "Classification for Kingdom Plantae Down to Genus Cercocarpus Kunth". PLANTS Database. United States Department of Agriculture. Retrieved 2012-04-19.

External links