The Quest for Mountain Mahogany

Mountain Mahogany

Mountain Mahogany

In recent months, I have been gifted with a lathe by a family member.  It was a very nice blessing, and I will be posting on that restoration project shortly.  This post is mostly for myself, to document my search for mountain mahogany.  Mountain mahogany (Cercocarpus ledifolius) is a shrub of the Rosaceae family that is extremely dense–denser, in fact than ebony.  It grows in large part in the western part of the United States, generally in high altitude regions and chaparral.

I have been searching for North American wood alternatives for bagpipes.  When I found out that mountain mahogany grows in abundance in my home state, Wyoming, I got excited.  I called my dad up and asked if he knew anything about it, which he didn’t but said he would sniff around and ask.  He called a little bit later and said he talked to a guy that looks for different kinds of woods, who said it grows all over the place like sagebrush.

So, a plan is pending to get out there and look for some.  In the meantime, I’ve been doing some footwork to find locations to harvest, how to harvest legally–and failing that, to find suppliers.  This elusive shrub is rarely found at lumber suppliers, and I have only been able to locate two of them.  It’s generally not sold, hence the hard work I have been doing to find it.  I have spoken with some folks at the Sheridan, WY U.S. Forest Service office and discovered little more than I know of it.  I am currently trying to reach out to the Bureau of Land Management to see what they know of it.

Today, I found out how to identify locations using Google Maps, so I am going to direct attention to this map:

This is a location where a BLM controlled burn of sagebrush and mountain mahogany took place, and if you switch to street view, you can see what the shrubs look like:

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  1. Chad Fross

     /  April 23, 2018

    I live in Rawlins Wyoming and build Scottish smallpipes. I’ve also been researching this recently as well, since it grows everywhere out here, like a weed. I know where I can get it. I need to get in touch with local blm office to see what hoops I need to jump through to harvest it. I’m also checking with public works to see if i can puuk though their wood piles for stud thrive already cut away. I’ve seen a uilleann pie chanter made of this sweetbrush as some call it here, and out is magnificent! I’ll keep you posted, and if I come across any that has been cut and piled a few seasons ago (stuff that never made it to the landfill from public works) I’ll send you some, and we can compare notes.


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