Rhus ovata, Sugar Sumac
Scientific Name: Rhus ovata
Common Name: Sugar Sumac
Also Called: Mountain Laurel and Sugar Bush (Spanish: Lentisco)
Family: Anacardiaceae, Sumac Family
Synonyms: (Rhus ovata var. traskiae)
Size: Up to 15 feet or more.
Growth Form: Large shrub or tree; evergreen, heavily leaved, branchlets reddish, pubescent to glabrous, old bark shaggy.
Leaves: Bright green; evergreen, shiny, simple, petiole, shape variable, heart shaped or ovate, margins slightly undulating, folding at midrib.
Flower Color: Cream, white or pinkish, red sepals, flowers on semi-woody branches, panicle, fruit a lightly pubescent reddish capsule.
Flowering Season: March to April or later.
Elevation: 3,000 to 5,000 feet.
Habitat Preferences: Mid to upper edge of Sonoran Desert, canyons, rocky hillsides, washes, common in chaparral.
Recorded Range: Rare in the United States found in southern California and central and northwest Arizona. Also found in Baja California.
North America & US County Distribution Map for Rhus ovata.
U.S. Weed Information: No data available.
Invasive/Noxious Weed Information: No data available.
Wetland Indicator: No data available.
Threatened/Endangered Information: No data available.
Genus Information: 20 species in Rhus in the United States, Canada and Mexico, 7 in Arizona.
Comments: Sugar Sumac is a handsome plant often used as an ornamental and desert landscape specimen in central and southern Arizona and southern California. The plant has excellent wildlife value providing food and habitat for birds, butterflies and other insects.
Rhus ovata has been used for food and other purposes American indigenous peoples.
Cahuilla Drug, Cold Remedy, Infusion of leaves taken for colds.
Cahuilla Food, Dried Food, Berries dried.
Cahuilla Food, Porridge, Berries ground into a flour for mush.
Coahuilla Drug, Analgesic, Infusion of leaves taken for chest pain.
Diegueno Drug, Gynecological Aid, Infusion of leaves taken just before the birth for an easy delivery.
Yavapai Food, Fruit, Mashed, raw berries used for food
See other ethno-botanical uses s at Native American Ethnobotany, University of Michigan, Dearborn.