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Uses

Toxic parts

This plant contains toxic substances and skin contact with it can cause severe irritation to some people[1]. The sap is extremely poisonous[1]. The sap contains 3-N pentadecycatechnol. Many people are exceedingly sensitive to this, it causes a severe spreading dermatitis. The toxins only reach the skin if the plant tissues have been damaged, but even indirect contact can cause severe problems[2].

Edible uses

There are no edible uses listed for Rhus toxicodendron.

Material uses

The leaves are rich in tannin. They can be collected as they fall in the autumn and used as a brown dye or as a mordant[3].

An oil is extracted from the seeds[4]. It attains a tallow-like consistency on standing and is used to make candles. These burn brilliantly, though they emit a pungent smoke[4].

The milky juice makes an excellent indelible marking ink for linen etc[4][1]. It is also used as a varnish for boots and shoes[4].

Unknown part

Medicinal uses(Warning!)

Poison oak has occasionally been used medicinally, though it is an extremely poisonous plant and great caution should be exercised. Any herbal use should only be undertaken under the supervision of a qualified practitioner. See also the notes above on toxicity.

A fluid extract of the fresh leaves is irritant, narcotic, rubefacient and stimulant[4]. It has been used with some success in the treatment of paralysis, obstinate herpatic eruptions, palsy and in various forms of chronic and obstinate eruptive diseases[4]. A mash of the leaves has been used to treat ringworm[5]. An external application has also been used in the treatment of herpes sores[5]. A poultice of the plant has been used to treat infectious sores on the lips[6]. The root has been used to make a poultice and salve in the treatment of chronic sores and swollen glands[6].

A homeopathic remedy is made from the fresh leaves[7]. These should be harvested of a night-time, during damp weather and before the plant flowers[7]. This remedy has a wide range of applications and is one of the main treatments for mumps[7], it is also used in a wide range of skin disorders[4].

Ecology

Ecosystem niche/layer

Ecological Functions

Nothing listed.

Forage

Nothing listed.

Shelter

Nothing listed.

Propagation

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[8][2].

Suckers in late autumn to winter[2].

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



Cultivation

Succeeds in a well-drained fertile soil in full sun[1][2]. Judging by the plants natural habitat, it should also succeed in poor acid soils and dry soils[K].

The young growth in spring can be damaged by late frosts. Plants have brittle branches and these can be broken off in strong winds[2]. Plants are also susceptible to coral spot fungus[1]. Plants in this genus are notably resistant to honey fungus[2]. This species is a small suckering shrub, it can spread freely in suitable conditions[K]. There is some confusion over the correct name of this species. It is united with R. radicans (under that name) by some botanists whilst others split this species off into another genus, Toxicodendron, and unite it with R. radicans as Toxicodendron radicans[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[9][4]. The toxic species are sometimes separated into their own genus, Toxicodendron, by some botanists[2].

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

Crops

Problems, pests & diseases

Associations & Interactions

There are no interactions listed for Rhus toxicodendron. 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 toxicodendron.

Descendants

Cultivars

Varieties

None listed.

Subspecies

None listed.

Full Data

This table shows all the data stored for this plant.

Taxonomy
Binomial name
Rhus toxicodendron
Genus
Rhus
Family
Anacardiaceae
Imported References
Edible uses
Medicinal uses
Material uses & Functions
Botanic
Propagation
Cultivation
Environment
Cultivation
Uses
Edible uses
None listed.
Material uses
None listed.
Medicinal uses
None listed.
Functions & Nature
Functions
Provides forage for
Provides shelter for
Environment
Hardiness Zone
7
Heat Zone
?
Water
moderate
Sun
full sun
Shade
no shade
Soil PH
Soil Texture
Soil Water Retention
Environmental Tolerances
    Ecosystems
    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.
    Life
    Deciduous or Evergreen
    Herbaceous or Woody
    Life Cycle
    Growth Rate
    ?
    Mature Size
    Fertility
    Pollinators
    Flower Colour
    ?
    Flower Type











    References

    1. ? 1.01.11.21.31.41.51.6 Bean. W. Trees and Shrubs Hardy in Great Britain. Vol 1 - 4 and Supplement. Murray (1981-00-00)
    2. ? 2.002.012.022.032.042.052.062.072.082.092.102.11 Huxley. A. The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992. MacMillan Press ISBN 0-333-47494-5 (1992-00-00)
    3. ? 3.03.1 Buchanan. R. A Weavers Garden. ()
    4. ? 4.04.14.24.34.44.54.64.74.84.9 Grieve. A Modern Herbal. Penguin ISBN 0-14-046-440-9 (1984-00-00)
    5. ? 5.05.15.2 Weiner. M. A. Earth Medicine, Earth Food. Ballantine Books ISBN 0-449-90589-6 (1980-00-00)
    6. ? 6.06.16.2 Moerman. D. Native American Ethnobotany Timber Press. Oregon. ISBN 0-88192-453-9 (1998-00-00)
    7. ? 7.07.17.27.3 Castro. M. The Complete Homeopathy Handbook. Macmillan. London. ISBN 0-333-55581-3 (1990-00-00)
    8. ? Sheat. W. G. Propagation of Trees, Shrubs and Conifers. MacMillan and Co (1948-00-00)
    9. ? F. Chittendon. RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956 Oxford University Press (1951-00-00)
    10. ? Fernald. M. L. Gray's Manual of Botany. American Book Co. (1950-00-00)


    Facts about "Rhus toxicodendron"RDF feed
    Article is incompleteYes +
    Article requires citationsNo +
    Article requires cleanupYes +
    Belongs to familyAnacardiaceae +
    Belongs to genusRhus +
    Has binomial nameRhus toxicodendron +
    Has common nameEastern Poison Oak +
    Has drought toleranceIntolerant +
    Has fertility typeSelf sterile + and Bees +
    Has flowers of typeDioecious +
    Has hardiness zone7 +
    Has lifecycle typePerennial +
    Has material partUnknown part +
    Has material useDye +, Ink +, Mordant +, Oil +, Tannin + and Varnish +
    Has mature height0.6 +
    Has mature width1 +
    Has medicinal partUnknown part +
    Has medicinal useHomeopathy +, Irritant +, Narcotic +, Parasiticide +, Rubefacient +, Salve + and Stimulant +
    Has search namerhus toxicodendron + and eastern poison oak +
    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 toxicodendron +
    Has water requirementsmoderate +
    Is deciduous or evergreenDeciduous +
    Is herbaceous or woodyWoody +
    Is taxonomy typeSpecies +
    PFAF cultivation notes migratedNo +
    PFAF edible use notes migratedYes +
    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 +
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