Rhus ovata S. Watson
Sugar sumac, Sugarbush
Anacardiaceae (Sumac Family)
Synonym(s): Rhus ovata var. traskiae
USDA Symbol: RHOV
Sugar sumac is an evergreen shrub with large, bright-green, leathery leaves and dense, white flower clusters. Berries are reddish and sticky. Evergreen shrub or small tree with rounded crown. The plant grows to 6 ft. tall.
From the Image Gallery
Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Perennial
Leaf Retention: Evergreen
Leaf Arrangement: Alternate
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Leaf Shape: Ovate
Leaf Margin: Entire
Leaf Texture: Leathery
Size Notes: Spreading shrub to 15 feet.
Leaf: Shiny green above, pale below.
Fruit: Red. 1/8 inch.
Size Class: 6-12 ft.
Bloom InformationBloom Color: White , Pink
Bloom Time: Mar , Apr , May
DistributionUSA: AZ , CA
Native Distribution: Baja & s. CA, usually away from coast, to c. AZ
Native Habitat: Slopes; mesas; chaparral; 3000-5000 ft.
Growing ConditionsWater Use: Low
Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Dry
CaCO3 Tolerance: Medium
Soil Description: Dry soils.
Conditions Comments: Extremely drought-tolerant. Somewhat fire-proof if given a once/month watering in the summer. Sumac colonies are often single-sexed, formed from a single, suckering parent. Only female plants produce flowers and berries.
BenefitUse Ornamental: Sometimes planted for erosion control and landscaping in mountainous areas, this common species is also an attractive ornamental which can be sheared.
Use Wildlife: Food for many upland gamebirds, songbirds, large and small mammals.
Use Food: The edible fruit with thin pulp is sweet and was used as a sweetener by Indians; however, the large seeds are not eaten.
Value to Beneficial InsectsSpecial Value to Native Bees
Provides Nesting Materials/Structure for Native Bees
This information was provided by the Pollinator Program at The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation.
PropagationDescription: Treated seed and root cuttings are used for increase.
Seed Treatment: Soak in tap water 24 hours and immediately sow the seeds that swell. Boil the rest in water and cool immediately.
Commercially Avail: yes
Find Seed or Plants
Find seed sources for this species at the Native Seed Network.
View propagation protocol from Native Plants Network.
From the National Organizations DirectoryAccording to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:
Santa Barbara Botanic Garden - Santa Barbara, CA
Native Seed Network - Corvallis, OR
BibliographyBibref 995 - Native Landscaping from El Paso to L.A. (2000) Wasowski, S. and A. Wasowski
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From the ArchiveWildflower Newsletter 1984 VOL. 1, NO.4 - Lady Bird Heartened by Progress, Horticultural Society Annual Meeting Held, Dire...
Recommended Species Lists
Find native plant species by state. Each list contains commercially available species suitable for gardens and planned landscapes. Once you have selected a collection, you can browse the collection or search within it using the combination search.View Recommended Species page
Additional resourcesUSDA: Find Rhus ovata in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Rhus ovata in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Rhus ovata
MetadataRecord Modified: 2009-02-20
Research By: TWC Staff