Mountain mahogany shrubs can be 8-20 ft tall with dark brown to grayish bark. The flowers are tiny cream-pink and sometimes lack petals. Flowers cluster in the axils of tiny spur branches. The flowers develop into fruits called achenes, which are small, brown, and hard, with a long, twisted feathery red spike. Leaves are tough green, slightly hairy, and spatula-shaped, with the widest part near the middle of the leaf. Leaves are often toothed and alternate along the stems.
Mountain mahogany grows on rocky slopes, grasslands and openings in dry sites and is a wind-pollinated. It is found primarily in the Western United States. The long, feathery spike at the end of each fruit is the style from the flower that persists as the fruit develops. This feathery appendage can catch in the wind to disperse to new areas.