An oil is extracted from the seeds. It attains a tallow-like consistency on standing and is used to make candles. These burn brilliantly, though they emit a pungent smoke. The plants extensive root system makes it useful for stabilizing soils. A black dye is obtained from the fruit. A resin, 'copal resin', is obtained from the sap of this plant. When dissolved in any volatile liquid, such as oil of turpentine, it makes a beautiful varnish. (Is this a mistaken entry? Perhaps it belongs with one of the toxic species[K]).Wood - light, soft, coarse grained. It weighs 32lb per cubic foot. Sometimes used for small posts.
A tea made from the bark has been drunk to stimulate milk flow in nursing mothers. A decoction of the bark has been used as a wash for blisters and sunburn blisters. An infusion of the leaves has been used to cleanse and purify skin eruptions. The berries were chewed in the treatment of bed-wetting and mouth sores.Some caution is advised in the use of the leaves and stems of this plant, see the notes above on toxicity.
Practical Plants is currently lacking information on propagation instructions of Rhus copallina. Help us fill in the blanks! Edit this page to add your knowledge.
A very hardy species, when fully dormant it can tolerate temperatures down to about -25°c. However, the young growth in spring can be damaged by late frosts. A very ornamental plant. It is quite fast-growing but short-lived in the wild. In the north of its range plants are dwarf, around 1.2 metres tall, but in the south they can be up to 7 metres tall. Some botanists divide this species into separate species, whilst others see it as a single species with geographical forms. R. copallina is usually a shrub and is found in moist soils in sun or shade. R. copallina lanceolata. Gray. is more tree-like and is found in drier soils. Transplants easily. Plants have brittle branches and these can be broken off in strong winds. Plants are also susceptible to coral spot fungus. 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. The toxic species are sometimes separated into their own genus, Toxicodendron, by some botanists. Plants in this genus are notably resistant to honey fungus.Dioecious. Male and female plants must be grown if seed is required.
Problems, pests & diseases
Associations & Interactions
There are no interactions listed for Rhus copallina. Do you know of an interaction that should be listed here? to add it.
Polycultures & Guilds
There are no polycultures listed which include Rhus copallina.
This table shows all the data stored for this plant.
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