Family: Rosaceae – Rose Family
Deciduous perennial shrubs; 3.96' to 13.2' (1.2 to 4 meters) tall
Leaves: alternate; simple; entire or toothed; can have hairs on underside of leaves; 0.24” to 1.76” (6 to 44 mm) long; 0.2” to 0.92” (5 to 23 mm) wide
Flowers: flowers are 0.38” to 0.7” (9.5 to 17.5 mm); 0 petals; 5 white, yellow, brown, or purple sepals; 25 to 40 stamens; 1 pistil; bisexual, rarely unisexual; radially symmetrical; cup-like base to flower; flowers have sweet smell
Fruits: achenes – one sided fruit; seed inside can have “feathery” tail. Rose hips contain several achenes. Fruit provides food for wildlife. Some plants in this family are important wildlife browse, but some have a tendency to accumulate cyanide.
Blooms in Arches National Park: April, May
Habitat in Arches National Park: desert shrub, pinyon-juniper and grassland communities
Location seen: Windows, Fiery Furnace, Devils Garden
Other: The genus name, “Cercocarpus”, is from the Greek “kerkos” meaning “tail” and “carpos” meaning “fruit, shuttle-fruit or tailed fruit" and refers to the long feathery tails of the fruits. The species name, “montanus”, means “of the mountains”.
This is a very heat and drought tolerant plant and it is a valuable browse plant for wildlife and livestock.
The wood from this plant can be used for tool handles, weaving forks, battens, fire sticks, throwing sticks, prayer sticks, and has been used for arrow points. The roots and bark produce a reddish-brown dye for use on baskets and leather.
The family is large and complex and some botanists think it should be divided into more than 1 family. The family is held together by the presence of the hypanthium (a cup-shaped structure on which the calyx, corolla, and often the stamens are inserted).