Native Plants for the Intermountain West: Plant List

Cercocarpus ledifolius var. intricatus in the Landscape

Larry A. Rupp, Utah State University

Scientfic Name:  Cercocarpus ledifolius var. intricatus
Common Name:  Littleleaf Mountain Mahogany

Description:  Small, evergreen shrub with fleshy leaves that curl under on the margins. The flowers are not particularly showy, but the fruit is an achene with a cork-screw shaped plumose style that is quite unique and attractive. It has a very dense and intricate branching pattern, with the stems being a significant part of its appearance and adding a rather coarse textured feel.

Native Habitat:  Dry, rocky sites with limited water and extreme summer temperatures. Primarily found in Utah, Arizona, and Nevada.

Cultural Requirement

Soil:  Should be well drained and coarse. Plants do well in a neutral to alkaline pH and limited organic matter

Moisture Tolerance:  High drought tolerance.

Sun/Shade/Preference:  Full sun.

Transplanting:  Easy to transplant.

Propagation:  Can be propagated by seed, rooted cuttings, or by layering.

Maintenance (pruning, fertilization, deadheading, division, irrigation, etc):  This plant is actinorhizal so it is able to fix nitrogen and thus does not need supplemental fertilizer. While it is tolerant of pruning, it should need only minimal amounts. Irrigation should be used cautiously to avoid problems from excess water.

Insect, disease, or other problems:  Minimal disease or insect problems.

Landscape Value

Use in the Landscape:  Can be used as a specimen or as an informal hedge.

Foliage:  Various shades of gray/green. Evergreen.

Timing:  April May

Color:  Pink color, inconspicuous.

Fruit:  An achene with a cork-screw shaped plumose style.

Form:  Various forms from oval to columnar to procumbent.

Texture:  Coarse.

Ultimate Size:  Less than 8 feet tall.

Rate of Growth:  Slow.

Availability:  Reclamation stock propagated from seed.

Cultivars:  None


Mee, W., J. Barnes, R. Kjelgren, R. Sutton, T. Cerny, and C. Johnson. 2003. Water wise: native plants for intermountain landscapes. Utah State University Press. pp. 17-19.

R.M. Lanner. 1984. Trees of the Great Basin: a natural history. University of Nevada Press. pp. 179-180.

Shaw, N.L., S.B. Monsen, and R. Stevens. 2004. Rosaceous Shrubs. In: Monsen, S.B., R. Stevens, and N.L. Shaw., comps. 2004. Restoring western ranges and wildlands. Gen. Tech. Rep. RMRS-GTR-136-vol-2. Fort Collins, CO; USDA For. Serv. Rocky Mtn Res. Station pp. 545-552.