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Toxic parts

There are some suggestions that the sap of this species can cause a skin rash in susceptible people, but this has not been substantiated. See also notes in 'Cultivation Details'.

Edible uses


Fruit - raw or cooked[1][2]. The fruit is small with very little flesh, but it is easily harvested and when soaked for 10 - 30 minutes in hot or cold water makes a very refreshing lemonade-like drink (without any fizz of course)[61, 85, 183, K]. The mixture should not be boiled since this will release tannic acids and make the drink astringent. The fruit can also be dried and ground into a powder then mixed with corn meal and used in cakes, porridges etc[3].

Unknown part


Material uses

The leaves are rich in tannin (up to 25%) and can be collected as they fall in the autumn then used as a brown dye or as a mordant[4]. The bark is also a good source of tannin[5].

An oil is extracted from the seeds[5]. It attains a tallow-like consistency on standing and is used to make candles. These burn brilliantly, though they emit a pungent smoke[5]. The plant has an extensive root system and is sometimes planted to prevent soil erosion[6].

The split stems are used in basket making[5][7][8].

Unknown part

Medicinal uses(Warning!)

The leaves are astringent and diuretic[8][9]. They were used in the treatment of colds, stomach aches and bleeding[9].

The root bark is astringent and diuretic[5][9]. An infusion can be used in the treatment of diarrhoea, dysentery. Used externally, it is used to treat excessive vaginal discharge and skin eruptions and also as a gargle for sore throats[10]. Its use is contraindicated if inflammation is present[9]. The root is harvested in the autumn and dried for later use[10]. The fruits are astringent and diuretic[10]. They have been chewed in the treatment of stomach aches, toothaches and gripe[9] and used as a gargle to treat mouth and throat complaints[10]. They help reduce fevers and may be of help in treating late-onset diabetes[10].

Some caution is advised in the use of the leaves and stems of this plant, see the notes above on toxicity.

Unknown part


Ecosystem niche/layer

Ecological Functions

Earth stabiliser


Nothing listed.


Nothing listed.


Seed - best sown in a cold frame as soon as it is ripe. Pre-soak the seed for 24 hours in hot water (starting at a temperature of 80 - 90c and allowing it to cool) prior to sowing in order to leach out any germination inhibitors[6]. This soak water can be drunk and has a delicious lemon-flavour. The stored seed also needs hot water treatment and can be sown in early spring in a cold frame[6]. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts.

Cuttings of half-ripe wood, 10cm with a heel, July/August in a frame[6]. Root cuttings 4cm long taken in December and potted up vertically in a greenhouse. Good percentage[11][6].

Suckers in late autumn to winter[6].

Practical Plants is currently lacking information on propagation instructions of Rhus aromatica. Help us fill in the blanks! Edit this page to add your knowledge.


Succeeds in a well-drained fertile soil in full sun[12][6]. Tolerates poor soils[4][6]. Established plants are drought resistant[4].

A very hardy plant when fully dormant, tolerating temperatures down to about -25°c[13]. However, the young growth in spring can be damaged by late frosts. Many of the species in this genus are highly toxic and can also cause severe irritation to the skin of some people, whilst other species such as this one are not poisonous. It is relatively simple to distinguish which is which, the poisonous species have axillary panicles and smooth fruits whilst non-poisonous species have compound terminal panicles and fruits covered with acid crimson hairs[14][5]. The toxic species are sometimes separated into their own genus, Toxicodendron, by some botanists[6]. This species is a low suckering shrub[15]. There is a specially low growing form, var. arenaria, that is found growing on sand dunes in the mid-west of N. America[13]. A polymorphic species[16]. Plants are susceptible to coral spot fungus[12]. Plants have brittle branches that are easily damaged in very strong winds[12]. Plants in this genus are notably resistant to honey fungus[6]. This species transplants easily[4]. The plant has an offensive smell[17]. Or, to go by another nose, the bruised leaves emit a delicious resinous scent[18].

Dioecious. Male and female plants must be grown if seed is required.


Problems, pests & diseases

Associations & Interactions

There are no interactions listed for Rhus aromatica. Do you know of an interaction that should be listed here? edit this page to add it.

Polycultures & Guilds

There are no polycultures listed which include Rhus aromatica.




None listed.


None listed.

Full Data

This table shows all the data stored for this plant.

Binomial name
Rhus aromatica
Imported References
Edible uses
Medicinal uses
Material uses & Functions
Edible uses
None listed.
Material uses
None listed.
Medicinal uses
None listed.
Functions & Nature
Provides forage for
Provides shelter for
Hardiness Zone
Heat Zone
full sun
no shade
Soil PH
Soil Texture
Soil Water Retention
Environmental Tolerances
  • Drought
Native Climate Zones
None listed.
Adapted Climate Zones
None listed.
Native Geographical Range
None listed.
Native Environment
None listed.
Ecosystem Niche
None listed.
Root Zone Tendancy
None listed.
Deciduous or Evergreen
Herbaceous or Woody
Life Cycle
Growth Rate
Mature Size
Flower Colour
Flower Type

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"image:Rhusaromatica.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki. "image:Rhusaromatica.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki.

"image:Rhusaromatica.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki.

"image:Rhusaromatica.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki.

"image:Rhusaromatica.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki., "image:Rhusaromatica.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki., "image:Rhusaromatica.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki. "image:Rhusaromatica.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki., "image:Rhusaromatica.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki., "image:Rhusaromatica.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki. "image:Rhusaromatica.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki. "image:Rhusaromatica.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki."image:Rhusaromatica.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki.


  1. ? 1.01.1 Hedrick. U. P. Sturtevant's Edible Plants of the World. Dover Publications ISBN 0-486-20459-6 (1972-00-00)
  2. ? 2.02.1 Sholto-Douglas. J. Alternative Foods. ()
  3. ? 3.03.1 Facciola. S. Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants. Kampong Publications ISBN 0-9628087-0-9 (1990-00-00)
  4. ? Buchanan. R. A Weavers Garden. ()
  5. ? Grieve. A Modern Herbal. Penguin ISBN 0-14-046-440-9 (1984-00-00)
  6. ? Huxley. A. The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992. MacMillan Press ISBN 0-333-47494-5 (1992-00-00)
  7. ? 7.07.1 Uphof. J. C. Th. Dictionary of Economic Plants. Weinheim (1959-00-00)
  8. ? Usher. G. A Dictionary of Plants Used by Man. Constable ISBN 0094579202 (1974-00-00)
  9. ? Foster. S. & Duke. J. A. A Field Guide to Medicinal Plants. Eastern and Central N. America. Houghton Mifflin Co. ISBN 0395467225 (1990-00-00)
  10. ? Chevallier. A. The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants Dorling Kindersley. London ISBN 9-780751-303148 (1996-00-00)
  11. ? Sheat. W. G. Propagation of Trees, Shrubs and Conifers. MacMillan and Co (1948-00-00)
  12. ? Bean. W. Trees and Shrubs Hardy in Great Britain. Vol 1 - 4 and Supplement. Murray (1981-00-00)
  13. ? 13.013.1 Phillips. R. & Rix. M. Shrubs. Pan Books ISBN 0-330-30258-2 (1989-00-00)
  14. ? F. Chittendon. RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956 Oxford University Press (1951-00-00)
  15. ? Thomas. G. S. Ornamental Shrubs, Climbers and Bamboos. Murray ISBN 0-7195-5043-2 (1992-00-00)
  16. ? 16.016.1 Fernald. M. L. Gray's Manual of Botany. American Book Co. (1950-00-00)
  17. ? Vines. R. A. Trees of Central Texas. University of Texas Press ISBN 0-292-78958-3 (1987-00-00)
  18. ? Genders. R. Scented Flora of the World. Robert Hale. London. ISBN 0-7090-5440-8 (1994-00-00)

"image:Rhusaromatica.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki.

Facts about "Rhus aromatica"RDF feed
Article is incompleteYes +
Article requires citationsNo +
Article requires cleanupYes +
Belongs to familyAnacardiaceae +
Belongs to genusRhus +
Functions asEarth stabiliser +
Has binomial nameRhus aromatica +
Has common nameLemon Sumach +
Has drought toleranceTolerant +
Has edible partUnknown part + and Fruit +
Has edible useDrink + and Unknown use +
Has environmental toleranceDrought +
Has fertility typeSelf sterile + and Bees +
Has flowers of typeDioecious +
Has hardiness zone3 +
Has imageRhusaromatica.jpg +
Has lifecycle typePerennial +
Has material partUnknown part +
Has material useBasketry +, Dye +, Mordant +, Oil + and Tannin +
Has mature height1.2 +
Has mature width1.5 +
Has medicinal partUnknown part +
Has medicinal useAstringent + and Diuretic +
Has primary imageRhusaromatica.jpg +
Has search namerhus aromatica + and lemon sumach +
Has shade toleranceNo shade +
Has soil ph preferenceAcid +, Neutral + and Alkaline +
Has soil texture preferenceSandy +, Loamy + and Clay +
Has soil water retention preferenceWell drained +
Has sun preferenceFull sun +
Has taxonomic rankSpecies +
Has taxonomy nameRhus aromatica +
Has water requirementsmoderate +
Is deciduous or evergreenDeciduous +
Is herbaceous or woodyWoody +
Is taxonomy typeSpecies +
PFAF cultivation notes migratedNo +
PFAF edible use notes migratedNo +
PFAF material use notes migratedNo +
PFAF medicinal use notes migratedNo +
PFAF propagation notes migratedNo +
PFAF toxicity notes migratedNo +
Tolerates nutritionally poor soilNo +
Uses mature size measurement unitMeters +
Has subobjectThis property is a special property in this wiki.Rhus aromatica +, Rhus aromatica +, Rhus aromatica +, Rhus aromatica +, Rhus aromatica +, Rhus aromatica +, Rhus aromatica +, Rhus aromatica + and Rhus aromatica +