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Botanical Name:Rhus sempervirens
Division: vascular plants
Class: Dicotyledonous angiosperms
Synonyms: Toxicodendron sempervirens Kuntze, Schmaltzia pachyrrhachis ( Hemsl. ) FA
Habitat :Rhus sempervirens is native to Southern N. America – Texas, New Mexico and Mexico. It grows on dry slopes, rocky hillsides and cliffs, 600 – 2250 metres.
Rhus sempervirens is an evergreen Shrub growing to 3.5 m (11ft 6in). It is frost tender. It is in leaf 12-Jan. It is in flower from Jul to August, and the seeds ripen from Sep to October. 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.
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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 dry or moist soil.
We have very little information on the hardiness of this species and do not know if it will succeed outdoors in Britain. It is unlikely to succeed anywhere outside the mildest areas of the country. The following notes are based on the general needs of the genus. Succeeds in a well-drained fertile soil in full sun. 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. Many of the species in this genus are highly toxic and can also cause severe irritation to the skin of some people, whilst other species such as this one 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. This soak water can be drunk and has a delicious lemon-flavour. 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[78, 200]. Suckers in late autumn to winter
Fruit – raw or cooked. The fruit is small with very little flesh, but it is produced in fairly large panicles and so is easily harvested. When soaked for 10 – 30 minutes in hot or cold water it makes a very refreshing lemonade-like drink (without any fizz of course). The mixture should not be boiled since this will release tannic acids and make the drink astringent.
The leaves are used in domestic medicine for relieving asthma. Some caution is advised in the use of the leaves and stems of this plant, see the notes below on toxicity.
Dye; Mordant; Oil.
An oil is extracted from the seeds. It attains a tallow-like consistency on standing and is used to make candles. These burn brilliantly, though they emit a pungent smoke. The leaves are rich in tannin. They can be collected as they fall in the autumn and used as a brown dye or as a mordant.
Known Hazards:There are some suggestions that the sap of this species can cause a skin rash in susceptible people, but this has not been substantiated. See also notes in ‘Cultivation Details’.
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.