Sunday, May 7, 2017


When I was having dessert outside with a few friends yesterday, I looked over at the curl-leaf mountain mahoganies (Cercocarpus ledifolius) that I had planted as a screen. They were just putting on their spring flush of growth, the fresh new shoots a light green against the blue sky. I was struck by their beauty. They gave me a similar impression as the rosemary with all its new growth that I so love. For a moment, I lost track of the conversation. My friends probably thought I had been drinking too much (I hadn't even had a sip!) as a I gazed toward the garden.

 You might think it's silly to be waxing rhapsodic over what might seem to be a pedestrian plant. But in this harsh climate, and especially this year of roller-coaster weather, plants that grow like they are happy to be here are rather unusual.

 Although they might not have the flash of extravagant flowers like the irises and peonies that bloom at this time of year, there is an understated rugged elegance to them. 

 Sure, it looks like a boring old evergreen shrub in the photos.

It is also reliable, durable, resilient, and adds New Mexico character to a garden. There is a some fragrance, although not that impressive.

 This hybrid, C. ledifolius x intricatus from Plants of the Southwest, is more dense and slower growing than C. ledifolius and faster and looser than C. intricatus. Just as you would expect. I did notice that the seedlings at the nursery were quite variable, however, some more like C. ledifolius and some more like C. intricatus. 

The tails on the seeds are just forming. In a month or two, those silky tails will catch the sunlight and the whole shrub will glisten, especially in the morning and late afternoon.


 The leaves are also rather fuzzy, giving it a slightly silvery appearance in the sunlight.

 No, they don't have the flash of flowers, but for giving a garden New Mexico character, I certainly appreciate them more than, say, Eleagnus pungens, Photinia, or boxwood.

1 comment:

  1. Great plant, though Eleagnus pungens to me resembles a Quercus turbinella a bit. My neighbor had several which filled and became incredible dwarf trees in his narrow side yard. That was before one could buy the native C. breviflorus.

    C. intricatus is one I never used, and the compact form is a winner.