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Rhus integrifolia
Rhus integrifolia

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Zones 8, 9, 14-17, 19-24
Full Sun
Regular WaterMinimal Water
Moderate, Minimal

Rhus integrifolia

Lemonade Berry
Evergreen, Ground covers, Shrubs


Of the ornamental sumacs, deciduous kinds are extremely hardy to cold; they are noted for brilliant fall leaf color and, on female plants, showy clusters of (usually) red fruits that attract birds. They tend to produce suckers, especially if their roots are disturbed by cultivation.

Evergreen species are less hardy.

All sumac species thrive in almost any soil, as long as drainage is good (soggy soils can kill them). Poison oak and poison ivy were once members of the genus Rhus, but they have been reclassified as Toxicodendron.

Rhus integrifolia

Native to coastal Southern California, Channel Islands, Baja California. Generally 3 to 10 ft. high and wide; rarely tree-like to 30 ft. Leathery dark green leaves are oval to nearly round, 1 to 2 1/2 in. long. White or pinkish flowers in dense clusters from midwinter to spring (sometimes from early winter into summer). Clustered small, flattish fruits are reddish and gummy, with tart pulp that can be used to flavor drinks, hence the common name.

Grows best near coast, where established plants need no irrigation. Makes a wonderful ground cover on rocky slopes exposed to salt-laden winds; one plant eventually sprawls over a wide area, even down cliffs. In less windy places, use as a tall screen or background plant. Excellent for espalier against fences and walls. Can be trimmed to make a dense formal hedge and maintained just under a foot wide. Useful in erosion control. Highly susceptible to verticillium wilt.

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