Carnegiea gigantea, Giant Saguaro

Southwest Desert Flora

Home to the plants of the Sonoran, Chihuahuan and Mojave Deserts

Cirsium ochrocentrum, Yellowspine Thistle

Rhus ovata, Sugar Sumac

Rhus ovata, Sugar Sumac, Southwest Desert Flora Rhus ovata, Sugar Sumac, Southwest Desert Flora Rhus ovata, Sugar Sumac, Southwest Desert Flora Rhus ovata, Sugar Sumac, Southwest Desert Flora

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)
Status: Native
Duration: Perennial
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.

Ethno-Herbalist: Southern California Ethnobotany; Ethnobotany of Southern California Native Plants:Rhus ovata.

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.

Date Profile Completed: 11/21/2014, updated 09/23/2016
U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service on-line database – ITIS search
Arizona Flora, Kearney, Thomas H., Peebles, Robert H., 1960, University of California Press, Berkley and Los Angeles, California.
CANOTIA: An Arizona journal publishing botanical and mycological papers, Vascular Plants of Arizona: 2007_Vol3_2_Anderson_Anacardiaceae, Anderson, John L.
Wikipedia contributors, 'Rhus ovata', Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 8 June 2014, 23:01 UTC, [accessed 21 November 2014]
Sonoran Desert Field Guide, Plagens, Michael J., accessed 11/21/2014.
1993, The Jepson Manual, Citation: ttp:// (accessed 11/21/2014)
SEINet for synonyms, scientific names and recorded geographic locations,