Rhus microphylla, Littleleaf Sumac
Scientific Name: Rhus microphylla
Common Name: Littleleaf Sumac
Also Called: Desert Sumac, Littleleaf Desert Sumac, Littleleaf Sumac, Scrub Sumac, (Spanish: Lima de la Sierra, Limilla de la Sierra, Agrillo, Saladito, Sidra (both generic), Agritos, Correosa)
Family: Anacardiaceae, Sumac Family
Size: Up to 15 feet or so.
Growth Form: Shrub, small tree; multiple crooked branches, intricately branched; spinescent twigs; bark dark grey to black, smooth and later becoming scaly.
Leaves: Green, dull green, leathery or not, shiny or not; pilose, sessile; deciduous; leaves about 1 ½ inches long; pinnately-compound, 5 to 9 leaflets; flowers appear before the leaves.
Flower Color: White, green; dioecious, unisexual; flowers axillary and terminal clusters; fruit is a drupe, reddish-orange in color.
Flowering Season: March to May.
Elevation: 1,000 to 6,500 feet across its range.
Habitat Preferences: Washes, canyons, arroyos, dry mesas and slopes, scrubby uplands; prefers sandstone, limestone and granitic parent materials.
Recorded Range: Littleleaf Sumac is found in the southwestern United States in AZ, NM, OK, TX. Although it occurs in both the Sonoran and Chihuahuan deserts, given its geographic distribution it could be considered more of a Chihuahuan Desert species. It is also native to Mexico.
North America & US County Distribution Map for Rhus microphylla.
U.S. Weed Information: No information available.
Invasive/Noxious Weed Information: No information available.
Wetland Indicator: No information available.
Threatened/Endangered Information: No information available.
Genus Information: In North America there are 20 species for Rhus. World wide, The Plant List includes 131 accepted species names and includes a further 96 of infraspecific rank for the genus.
In the Southwestern United States: Arizona has 7 species of Rhus, California has 5 species, Nevada has 2 species, New Mexico has 5 species, Texas has 7 species, Utah has 3 species. All data is approximate and subject to taxonomic changes.
Comments: Littleleaf Sumac is eaten by livestock but is of poor quality. In Texas and New Mexico Mule Deer and Pronghorn browse the leaves. The fruits are eaten by birds and small mammals. In dense stands, Littleleaf Sumac provides cover for deer.
Rhus microphylla has been used for food by southwestern United States indigenous peoples.
See complete listing of ethno-botanical uses at Native American Ethnobotany, University of Michigan, Dearborn.