Rhus ovata, Sugar Sumac
Scientific Name: Rhus ovata
Common Name: Sugar Sumac
Also Called: Mountain Laurel, Sugar Bush, Sugar-bush (Spanish: Lentisco)
Family: Anacardiaceae, Sumac Family
Synonyms: (Rhus ovata var. traskiae) )
Size: Up to 15 feet more or less.
Growth Form: Large shrub or small tree; evergreen, heavily leaved, stout branches, mostly pubescent more so than glabrous; old bark shaggy.
Leaves: Bright green; evergreen, shiny, leathery, shape variable, wide-ovate to elliptic; entire; simple; petiolate; shape variable, heart shaped or ovate; folding at midrib.
Flower Color: Cream, white or pinkish, deep red; inflorescence dense panicles; sepals magenta; petals cream to pinkish; fruit sticky red berries.
Flowering Season: March to April or later; March to May in California.
Elevation: 3,000 to 5,000 feet; below 4,000 feet in California.
Habitat Preferences: Mid to upper edge of Sonoran Desert, canyons, rocky hillsides, washes, south-facing slopes and mesas, common and conspicuous 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: 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: Sugar Sumac is an attractive 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.
In California, Sugar Sumac is known to hybridize with Lemonade Sumac, Rhus integrifolia.
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 at Native American Ethnobotany, University of Michigan, Dearborn.