Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center - The University of Texas at Austin information

 Native Plant Database

Rhus virens

Evergreen sumac, Tobacco sumac, Lambrisco, Lentrisco

Anacardiaceae (Sumac Family)

Rhus virens (Evergreen sumac)
Lytle, Melody
Evergreen sumac is a shrub or small tree, from 8-12 ft. in height with spreading branches. Its shiny, evergreen, pinnate foliage is tinged with pink in early spring and maroon after frost. Leaves are alternate, 25 1/2 inches long, with 59 fleshy leaflets on stiff stems. The 5-petaled, inconspicuous, greenish or white flowers grow in clusters 12 inches long at the end of stout branches. When the fruit matures in mid-September it is red, broader than long, and covered with fine hair.

Evergreen sumac can be used to make a nice, thick hedge or screen, but can grow tree-like with a long, straight trunk. Only female plants produce flowers and berries. It is fast growing, generally insect and disease-free, and drought-tolerant. Not a true evergreen leaves are green through the winter, then are dropped, to be replaced within a week with a new crop.

Image Gallery:

20 photo(s) available

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Shrub
Leaf Retention: Evergreen
Leaf Arrangement: Alternate
Leaf Complexity: Pinnate
Leaf Shape: Elliptic
Leaf Margin: Entire
Leaf Texture: Leathery
Breeding System: Flowers Unisexual , Dioecious
Size Notes: Shrub to 10 feet.
Fruit: Orange-red. 1/4 inch.
Size Class: 6-12 ft.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: White , Yellow
Bloom Time: Jul , Aug


Native Distribution: central Texas west to southern Arizona, south to Oaxaca in southern Mexico
Native Habitat: Rocky hillsides, gullies, & bluffs. In Texas, found on rocky bluffs, slopes, banks, and dry hillsides in the Edwards Plateau and Trans-Pecos.

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Low
Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Dry
Drought Tolerance: High
Cold Tolerant: yes
Soil Description: Rocky soils. Sandy, Sandy Loam, Medium Loam Clay Loam Clay, Caliche type, Limestone-based Igneous


Use Ornamental: Aromatic, Blooms ornamental, Fruits ornamental, Fall conspicuous
Use Wildlife: Birds and other animals feed on the fuzzy red fruit. The flower is a nectar source for adult butterflies.
Use Food: When soaked in water, the berries make a tart, tasty tea that is high in vitamin C.
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Attracts: Birds , Butterflies
Deer Resistant: Moderate

Last Update: 2015-12-08