Rhus L.


From rhous, the Classical Greek name.

Deciduous or evergreen shrubs, climbers or occasionally trees. Plants unisexual or with both unisexual and bisexual flowers. Leaves alternate, usually compound and odd-pinnate. Flowers small. Sepals and petals 5. Stamens 5, reduced in female flowers. Fruit small, dry, 1-seeded and often red-fleshed. Syn. Rhus toxicodendron L., Toxicodendron radicans (L.) Kuntze.

Grown for the ornamental foliage and forms which are especially colourful and attractive in autumn. R. radicans L., Poison Ivy (Poison Vine), is now fortunately rarely encountered; it is a climbing plant once grown for the brilliant red leaves consisting of 3 leaflets. Contact with the plant, secondary contact of clothing, garden tools etc., or exposure to dust and ash in smoke can produce inflammation, itching and blisters. Ingestion causes serious gastric problems and even death.

Other species occasionally listed include R. angustifolia L. and R. lancea from S Africa, both of which have 3 narrow leaflets per leaf, the former with the terminal leaflet to 5 cm long, the latter with terminal leaflets mostly more than 10 cm long.

R. chinensis Mill., Nutgall Tree, from E Asia has 7-13 leaflets that are brownish-hairy below.

About 150 species from temperate and subtropical areas.

Seed, root cuttings or semi-hardwood cuttings.

Schonland (1930), Barkley (1936), Coombes (1994).

Source: Spencer, R. (2002). Anacardiaceae. In: Spencer, R.. Horticultural Flora of South-eastern Australia. Volume 3. Flowering plants. Dicotyledons. Part 2. The identification of garden and cultivated plants. University of New South Wales Press.

Hero image
kingdom Plantae
phylum   Tracheophyta
class    Magnoliopsida
superorder     Rosanae
order      Sapindales
family       Anacardiaceae
Higher taxa
Subordinate taxa
species         Rhus succedanea L.
species         Rhus typhina L.