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Botanical Name: Rhus succedanea
Species: T. succedaneum
Synonyms: Toxicodendron succedaneum. (L.)Mold, Rhus succedanea L.
Common Names: Wax tree, Japanese wax tree or Son in Vietnam
Habitat: Rhus succedanea is native to E. Asia – China, Japan, Himalayas. It has been planted elsewhere, most notably Australia and New Zealand. It grows in forests and shrubberies to 2400 metres in the Himalayas.
Rhus succedanea is a deciduous Tree growing to 9 m (29ft) by 9 m (29ft). It is a large shrub or tree, somewhat similar to a sumac tree. Because of its beautiful autumn foliage, it has been planted outside of Asia as an ornamental plant, often by gardeners who were apparently unaware of the dangers of allergic reactions.
It is not frost tender. It is in flower in July, and the seeds ripen from Sep to November. The flowers are dioecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but only one sex is to be found on any one plant so both male and female plants must be grown if seed is required) and are pollinated by Bees.The plant is not self-fertile. CLICK & SEE THE PICTURES
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers moist soil.
Succeeds in a well-drained fertile soil in full sun. Plants are not very hardy in Britain, though they succeed outdoors in the mildest areas of the country. The young growth in spring can be damaged by late frosts. Plants have brittle branches and these can be broken off in strong winds. Plants are also susceptible to coral spot fungus. Plants in this genus are notably resistant to honey fungus. This species is frequently cultivated in Japan for its sap and the wax obtained from its fruit. Many of the species in this genus, including this one, are highly toxic and can also cause severe irritation to the skin of some people, whilst other species are not poisonous. It is relatively simple to distinguish which is which, the poisonous species have axillary panicles and smooth fruits whilst non-poisonous species have compound terminal panicles and fruits covered with acid crimson hairs. The toxic species are sometimes separated into their own genus, Toxicodendron, by some botanists. Dioecious. Male and female plants must be grown if seed is required.
Seed – best sown in a cold frame as soon as it is ripe. Pre-soak the seed for 24 hours in hot water (starting at a temperature of 80 – 90c and allowing it to cool) prior to sowing in order to leach out any germination inhibitors. The stored seed also needs hot water treatment and can be sown in early spring in a cold frame. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, 10cm with a heel, July/August in a frame. Root cuttings 4cm long taken in December and potted up vertically in a greenhouse. Good percentage. Suckers in late autumn to winter.
Fruit. The acid pulp is eaten. The edible fruit contains ellagic acid. These reports need to be treated with some caution due to the general toxicity of the species.
Antidote, antivinous, cholagogue, febrifuge, ophthalmic. Used as a wash to counteract varnish poisoning. Use with extreme caution, see notes above on toxicity. The fruit is used in the treatment of phthisis. A wax from the fruits is used in ointments. An ethanolic extract of the leaves exhibits anticancer and antiviral activities.
The leaves contain about 20% tannin. They can be collected as they fall in the autumn and used as a brown dye or as a mordant. The sap is tapped and used as a lacquer.(In Vietnam, the lacquer is used to produce lacquer paintings, known as s?n mài, from resin of the tree.) It is much used in Japanese art and needs to be kept in a cool humid place for it to dry properly. The Japanese traditionally kept their paintings in a damp cave until the lacquer had dried. A yellow dye is obtained from the wood. A wax obtained from the fruit is used to make candles, floor wax, varnish etc. The fruit contains about 17% wax. The fatty acid composition of the wax is 77% palmitic, 5% stearic and arachidic, 6% dibasic, 12% oleic and a trace of linoleic. The seed oil contains 25% glycerides of palmitic, 47% oleic and 28% linoleic
It is now officially classified as a noxious weed in Australia and New Zealand. It is one of the city tree symbols of Kurume, Fukuoka, Japan.
The larvae of the moths Eteoryctis deversa, Caloptilia aurifasciata, Caloptilia protiella, Caloptilia rhois and Callidrepana patrana feed on Rhus succedanea.
Known Hazards: This plant contains toxic substances which can cause severe irritation to some people. The fresh sap causes skin blisters. The leaves contain the ubiquitous carcinogen shikimic acid.
Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.