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Toxic parts

The plant contains toxic substances that can cause severe irritation to some people[1][2]. The sap can be particularly caustic[3]. All parts of the plant contain resinous phenolic compounds known as urushiols. Direct contacr with the plant, exposure to smoke or fumes from a burning plant or even contact with pets or animals that have touched the plant can cause severe allergic dermatitis in some individuals. There is usually a latent period of about 12 - 24 hours from the moment of contact, this is followed by a reddening and severe blistering of the skin. Even plant specimens 100 or more years old can cause problems[4].

Edible uses

There are no edible uses listed for Rhus verniciflua.

Material uses

A non-drying oil is obtained from the fruit and is used in making candles[5][3][6][7][8][9]. The fruit contains about 25% fat[10]. The fruit is crushed, heated and then crushed to extract the oil[K]. The oil attains a tallow-like consistency on standing and is used to make candles. These burn brilliantly, though they emit a pungent smoke[11].

The sap can be used as a varnish or a lacquer. It is obtained by incision of the stem[5][11][3][2][7][8], which is best done in mid-summer[12]. The lacquer is frequently used in Japanese art, it requires a damp atmosphere in which to dry and harden, a moist cave being ideal[12]. It is resistant to acids, alkalis, alcohol and temperatures up to 70°c[13].

The leaves and galls formed as a result of insect damage are rich in tannin[11]. The leaves can be collected as they fall in the autumn and used as a brown dye or as a mordant[14].

Unknown part

Medicinal uses(Warning!)

Stimulant, tonic[15].

The leaves are used in the treatment of wasting diseases and internal parasites[10]. The seed is haemostatic and is used in the treatment of dysentery[10]. A resin from the plant is emmenagogue, haemolytic, stimulant, tonic and vermifuge[10].

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[16]. The stored seed also needs hot water treatment and can be sown in early spring in a cold frame[16]. 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[16]. Root cuttings 4cm long taken in December and potted up vertically in a greenhouse. Good percentage[17][16].

Suckers in late autumn to winter[16].

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


Succeeds in a well-drained fertile soil in full sun[3][16].

One report says that this species is only hardy into zone 9 (tolerating only occasional light frosts)[16] but there are large healthy trees at Cambridge and Edinburgh Botanical gardens, and both sites had fruiting trees in September 1989[K]. Plants have brittle branches and these can be broken off in strong winds[16]. Plants are also susceptible to coral spot fungus[3]. Plants in this genus are notably resistant to honey fungus[16]. Cultivated for its lacquer in the warmer areas of Japan[18][9]. 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[5][11]. The toxic species are sometimes separated into their own genus, Toxicodendron, by some botanists[16].

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


Problems, pests & diseases

Associations & Interactions

There are no interactions listed for Rhus verniciflua. 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 verniciflua.




None listed.


None listed.

Full Data

This table shows all the data stored for this plant.

Binomial name
Rhus verniciflua
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
    Root Zone Tendancy
    None listed.
    Deciduous or Evergreen
    Herbaceous or Woody
    Life Cycle
    Growth Rate
    Mature Size
    Flower Colour
    Flower Type


    1. ? Ceres. Free for All. Thorsons Publishers ISBN 0-7225-0445-4 (1977-00-00)
    2. ? Stary. F. Poisonous Plants. Hamlyn ISBN 0-600-35666-3 (1983-00-00)
    3. ? Bean. W. Trees and Shrubs Hardy in Great Britain. Vol 1 - 4 and Supplement. Murray (1981-00-00)
    4. ? Diggs, Jnr. G.M.; Lipscomb. B. L. & O'Kennon. R. J [Illustrated Flora of North Central Texas] Botanical Research Institute, Texas. (1999-00-00)
    5. ? F. Chittendon. RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956 Oxford University Press (1951-00-00)
    6. ? 6.06.1 Uphof. J. C. Th. Dictionary of Economic Plants. Weinheim (1959-00-00)
    7. ? Schery. R. W. Plants for Man. ()
    8. ? Komarov. V. L. Flora of the USSR. Israel Program for Scientific Translation (1968-00-00)
    9. ? Wilson. E. H. Plantae Wilsonae. ()
    10. ? Duke. J. A. and Ayensu. E. S. Medicinal Plants of China Reference Publications, Inc. ISBN 0-917256-20-4 (1985-00-00)
    11. ? Grieve. A Modern Herbal. Penguin ISBN 0-14-046-440-9 (1984-00-00)
    12. ? Howes. F. N. Vegetable Gums and Resins. Faber ()
    13. ? 13.013.1 Hill. A. F. Economic Botany. The Maple Press (1952-00-00)
    14. ? 14.014.1 Buchanan. R. A Weavers Garden. ()
    15. ? 15.015.1 Stuart. Rev. G. A. Chinese Materia Medica. Taipei. Southern Materials Centre ()
    16. ? 16.0016.0116.0216.0316.0416.0516.0616.0716.0816.0916.10 Huxley. A. The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992. MacMillan Press ISBN 0-333-47494-5 (1992-00-00)
    17. ? Sheat. W. G. Propagation of Trees, Shrubs and Conifers. MacMillan and Co (1948-00-00)
    18. ? Ohwi. G. Flora of Japan. (English translation) Smithsonian Institution (1965-00-00)

    Facts about "Rhus verniciflua"RDF feed
    Article is incompleteYes +
    Article requires citationsNo +
    Article requires cleanupYes +
    Belongs to familyAnacardiaceae +
    Belongs to genusRhus +
    Has binomial nameRhus verniciflua +
    Has common nameLacquer Tree +
    Has drought toleranceIntolerant +
    Has fertility typeSelf sterile + and Bees +
    Has flowers of typeDioecious +
    Has hardiness zone9 +
    Has lifecycle typePerennial +
    Has material partUnknown part +
    Has material useDye +, Lacquer +, Mordant +, Oil + and Wax +
    Has mature height15 +
    Has mature width10 +
    Has medicinal partUnknown part +
    Has medicinal useEmmenagogue +, Stimulant +, Tonic + and Vermifuge +
    Has search namerhus verniciflua + and lacquer tree +
    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 verniciflua +
    Has water requirementsmoderate +
    Inhabits ecosystem nicheCanopy +
    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 +
    Has subobjectThis property is a special property in this wiki.Rhus verniciflua +, Rhus verniciflua +, Rhus verniciflua +, Rhus verniciflua +, Rhus verniciflua +, Rhus verniciflua +, Rhus verniciflua +, Rhus verniciflua + and Rhus verniciflua +