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Toxic parts

The plant contains toxic substances which can cause severe irritation to some people. Both the sap and the fruit are poisonous[1][2].

Edible uses


The immature fruits are used as caper substitutes[3][1][4][5]. Some caution is advised, see the notes above on toxicity.

The crushed fruit, mixed with Origanum syriacum, is a principal ingredient of 'Zatar', a popular spice mixture used in the Middle East[5].

The seed is used as an appetizer in a similar manner to mustard[3].

Unknown part


Material uses

The leaves and bark are rich in tannin[6]. The leaves can be collected as they fall in the autumn and used as a brown dye or as a mordant[7]. The fruit and bark are also used[8]. The leaves contain 20 - 35% tannin[9] and yield a yellow dye[1].

The finely ground leaves and stems provide the dyeing and tanning agent 'sumac'[9]. The shoots are cut down annually, near to the root, for this purpose[6]. A fawn colour, bordering on green, is obtained and this can be improved with the judicious use of mordants[6]. The cultivar 'Mesculino' is very rich in tannin, containing up to 35%[10][11]. An oil is extracted from the seeds[6]. It attains a tallow-like consistency on standing and is used to make candles. These burn brilliantly, though they emit a pungent smoke[6]. A black dye is obtained from the fruit[6][12].

A yellow and a red dye are obtained from the bark[13].

Unknown part

Medicinal uses(Warning!)

The leaves and the seeds are astringent, diuretic, styptic and tonic[6][14]. They are used in the treatment of dysentery, haemoptysis and conjunctivitis[14]. The seeds are eaten before a meal in order to provoke an appetite[6]. Some caution is advised in the use of the leaves and stems of this plant, see the notes above on toxicity.


Ecosystem niche/layer

Ecological Functions

Nothing listed.


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[2]. The stored seed also needs hot water treatment and can be sown in early spring in a cold frame[2]. 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[2]. Root cuttings 4cm long taken in December and potted up vertically in a greenhouse. Good percentage[15][2].

Suckers in late autumn to winter[2].

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


Succeeds in a well-drained fertile soil in full sun[16][2].

This species is not very hardy in Britain and is unlikely to succeed outdoors in any but the mildest parts of the country[16][2]. Another report says that the plant is quite hardy and is often grown in British gardens[6]. The young growth in spring can be damaged by late frosts. Unlike most members of this genus, this species is hermaphrodite[2]. The form 'Humilior' from Italy is smaller growing[17]. Plants have brittle branches and these can be broken off in strong winds[2]. Plants are also susceptible to coral spot fungus[16]. Plants in this genus are notably resistant to honey fungus[2].

Many of the species in this genus, including this one, are highly toxic and can also cause severe irritation to the skin of some people, whilst other species 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[18][6]. The toxic species are sometimes separated into their own genus, Toxicodendron, by some botanists[2].


Problems, pests & diseases

Associations & Interactions

There are no interactions listed for Rhus coriaria. 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 coriaria.




None listed.


None listed.

Full Data

This table shows all the data stored for this plant.

Binomial name
Rhus coriaria
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
    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
    3 x meters
    Flower Colour
    Flower Type

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    1. ? Polunin. O. and Huxley. A. Flowers of the Mediterranean. Hogarth Press ISBN 0-7012-0784-1 (1987-00-00)
    2. ? Huxley. A. The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992. MacMillan Press ISBN 0-333-47494-5 (1992-00-00)
    3. ? Hedrick. U. P. Sturtevant's Edible Plants of the World. Dover Publications ISBN 0-486-20459-6 (1972-00-00)
    4. ? 4.04.1 Brouk. B. Plants Consumed by Man. Academic Press ISBN 0-12-136450-x (1975-00-00)
    5. ? Facciola. S. Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants. Kampong Publications ISBN 0-9628087-0-9 (1990-00-00)
    6. ? Grieve. A Modern Herbal. Penguin ISBN 0-14-046-440-9 (1984-00-00)
    7. ? 7.07.1 Buchanan. R. A Weavers Garden. ()
    8. ? 8.08.1 Niebuhr. A. D. Herbs of Greece. Herb Society of America. (1970-00-00)
    9. ? Hill. A. F. Economic Botany. The Maple Press (1952-00-00)
    10. ? 10.010.1 Uphof. J. C. Th. Dictionary of Economic Plants. Weinheim (1959-00-00)
    11. ? 11.011.1 Usher. G. A Dictionary of Plants Used by Man. Constable ISBN 0094579202 (1974-00-00)
    12. ? 12.012.1 Holtom. J. and Hylton. W. Complete Guide to Herbs. Rodale Press ISBN 0-87857-262-7 (1979-00-00)
    13. ? 13.013.1 Polunin. O. Flowers of Europe - A Field Guide. Oxford University Press ISBN 0192176218 (1969-00-00)
    14. ? Chopra. R. N., Nayar. S. L. and Chopra. I. C. Glossary of Indian Medicinal Plants (Including the Supplement). Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, New Delhi. (1986-00-00)
    15. ? Sheat. W. G. Propagation of Trees, Shrubs and Conifers. MacMillan and Co (1948-00-00)
    16. ? Bean. W. Trees and Shrubs Hardy in Great Britain. Vol 1 - 4 and Supplement. Murray (1981-00-00)
    17. ? Thomas. G. S. Ornamental Shrubs, Climbers and Bamboos. Murray ISBN 0-7195-5043-2 (1992-00-00)
    18. ? F. Chittendon. RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956 Oxford University Press (1951-00-00)
    19. ? ? Flora Europaea Cambridge University Press (1964-00-00)

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    Facts about "Rhus coriaria"RDF feed
    Article is incompleteYes +
    Article requires citationsNo +
    Article requires cleanupYes +
    Belongs to familyAnacardiaceae +
    Belongs to genusRhus +
    Has binomial nameRhus coriaria +
    Has common nameElm-Leaved Sumach +
    Has drought toleranceIntolerant +
    Has edible partUnknown part + and Fruit +
    Has edible useCondiment + and Unknown use +
    Has fertility typeBees +
    Has flowers of typeHermaphrodite +
    Has hardiness zone9 +
    Has imageSommacco.jpg +
    Has lifecycle typePerennial +
    Has material partUnknown part +
    Has material useDye +, Mordant +, Oil + and Tannin +
    Has mature height3 +
    Has medicinal partUnknown part +
    Has medicinal useAstringent +, Diuretic +, Styptic + and Tonic +
    Has primary imageSommacco.jpg +
    Has search namerhus coriaria + and elm-leaved 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 coriaria +
    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 coriaria +, Rhus coriaria +, Rhus coriaria +, Rhus coriaria +, Rhus coriaria +, Rhus coriaria +, Rhus coriaria +, Rhus coriaria +, Rhus coriaria + and Rhus coriaria +