Selected Plants of Navajo Rangelands

Take care of our Navajo Rangelands

Mountain mahogany

Single woody branch of green, glossy leaves and small whiteish/yellow flowers.

Mountain mahogany is a shrub or small tree that grows from 2 to 20 feet tall, with upright or spreading branches. It flowers from May to June, and its fruits mature from July to September. It reproduces from seed and by root sprouts. Seed production is sporadic—the plants go as long as 10 years with no seed production. Mountain mahogany occurs on rocky bluffs, mountainsides, rimrock, breaks, and in canyons and open woodlands. It is common in swales where snow persists during the winter. It grows at elevations between 5,000 and 7,000 feet. It is heat and drought tolerant. It is also somewhat shade tolerant, but grows better without a forest canopy.

It is good to excellent forage for cattle, sheep, and goats. It is a good source of cover for livestock, big game, and many small mammals and birds. It is extremely valuable as winter browse for deer and bighorn sheep.

The twigs are palatable all year long, and are grazed heavily. However, the leaves may contain cyanogenic glycoside, which may cause hydrocyanic poisoning.

Wood from mountain mahogany has been used to make tools and war clubs, and its bark to make a reddish-brown dye for leather.

Close-up of blossoms, which are a creamy white-yellow with a rosy red base and stem
Large shrub with some bare gray branches and some green/grayish foliage at its center.

Copyright 2018 New Mexico State University. Individual photographers retain all rights to their images. Partially funded by the Western Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (; 435.797.2257), project EW15-023. Programs and projects supported by Western SARE are equally open to all people. NMSU is an equal opportunity/affirmative action educator and employer..

NMSU does not discriminate on the basis of age, ancestry, color, disability, gender identity, genetic information, national origin, race, religion, retaliation, serious medical condition, sex (including pregnancy), sexual orientation, spousal affiliation or protected veteran status in its programs and activities as required by equal opportunity/affirmative action regulations and laws and university policy and rules. For more information please read the NMSU Notice of Non-discrimination (opens in new window).