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Saturday - June 27, 2015

From: Tucson, AZ
Region: Southwest
Topic: Shrubs
Title: Male and Female Rhus virens Differences?
Answered by: Anne Van Nest

QUESTION:

I would like to plant a Rhus virens in my yard to attract birds. I want to make sure I get a female plant so there will be berries. How can I tell a male from a female plant?

ANSWER:

Rhus virens is the Evergreen sumac and the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center website says that it 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, 2–5 1/2 inches long, with 5–9 fleshy leaflets on stiff stems. The 5-petaled, inconspicuous, greenish or white flowers grow in clusters 1–2 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.

I found a discussion about the male and female flowers at the Jim Conrad's Naturalist Newsletter website. Evergreen Sumac's flowers are unisexual, each sex appearing on a different tree -- the plants are dioecious. I think our picture must show male flowers, for in other pictures of flowers often the ovary is more apparent and the stamens are smaller.

 

From the Image Gallery


Evergreen sumac
Rhus virens

Evergreen sumac
Rhus virens

Evergreen sumac
Rhus virens

Evergreen sumac
Rhus virens

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