Herbs & Plants

Rhus punjabensis

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Botanical Name:Rhus punjabensis
Family: Anacardiaceae
Genus: Rhus
Species: R. coriaria
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Sapindales

Synonyms :Rhus sinica.
Habitat :Rhus punjabensis is native to E. Asia – Himalayas and is distributed in NW India. It grows in moist situations in valleys and ravines. It grows in the thickets and forests at elevations of 460 – 3000 metres in Tibet and western China.

Rhus punjabensis sinica is a deciduous tree, 5-15 m tall; branchlets pubescent to minutely pubescent. Leaf blade imparipinnately compound; rachis narrowly winged or wingless distally; leaflets sessile or subsessile, 7-13; leaflet blade oblong-ovate or oblong, 5-12 × 2-4.5 cm, both sides glabrous to minutely pubescent along midrib or lower side pubescent, base rounded or subcordate, margin entire, apex acuminate or long acuminate, lateral veins ca. 20 pairs, prominent abaxially. Inflorescence 15-20 cm, densely minutely pubescent; floral subtending bracts 1-2 mm, subulate, minutely pubescent. Pedicel ca. 1 mm; flowers white. Calyx minutely pubescent, lobes narrowly triangular, ca. 1 mm, margins ciliate. Petals oblong, ca. 2 × 1 mm, minutely pubescent on both sides, margins ciliate, revolute at anthesis. Stamen filaments ca. 2 mm in male flowers, minutely pubescent proximally; anthers ovate; staminode filaments ca. 1 mm in female flowers. Disk purplish red. Ovary globose, ca. 1 mm in diam., white pubescent; male flower with sterile ovary. Drupe subglobose, ca. 4 mm in diam., purplish red at maturity, mixed pilose and glandular-pubescent.
It is not frost tender. It is in flower in June, and the seeds ripen from Aug to September. 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.


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. The young growth in spring can be damaged by late frosts. This species is closely allied to R. potaninii. This is the form of R. punjabensis that is most commonly grown in Britain. 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. Suckers in late autumn to winter
Edible Uses:   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.
Medicinal Uses:   An excrescence produced on the leaf by an insect Melaphis chinensis or M. paitan is antiseptic, astringent and haemostatic. It is used in the treatment of persistent cough with blood, chronic diarrhoea, spontaneous sweating, night sweats, bloody stool, urorrhoea and bloody sputum. It is used applied externally to burns, bleeding due to traumatic injuries, haemorrhoids and ulcers in the mouth.

Other Uses:  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.

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.