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Vascular Plants of California
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Rhus aromatica

Higher Taxonomy
Family: AnacardiaceaeView DescriptionDichotomous Key
Habit: Shrub, tree; generally dioecious or flowers bisexual and unisexual; resin clear, often weathering black, generally aromatic, latex milky or 0. Leaf: simple to ternate- or odd-pinnate-compound, alternate, deciduous or evergreen; stipules 0. Inflorescence: raceme or panicle; flowers generally many. Flower: generally unisexual, radial; sepals generally 5, base generally +- fused; petals 5, generally > sepals, free; (perianth parts 1--7 in Pistacia); stamens 4--7 or 10, vestigial in pistillate flowers; ovary superior, vestigial or 0 in staminate flowers, subtended by +- lobed, disk-like nectary, chamber generally 1, ovule generally 1, styles 1--3. Fruit: drupe, generally +- flat, sticky or not, hairs short or 0; pulp +- resinous, aromatic or not.
Genera In Family: 70+ genera, +- 850 species: tropics, warm temperate; some ornamental (Rhus, Schinus), cultivated for fruit (Anacardium, cashew; Mangifera, mango; Pistacia, pistachio). Toxicity: TOXIC: many genera produce contact dermatitis.
eFlora Treatment Author: John M. Miller & Dieter H. Wilken, except as noted
Scientific Editor: Bruce G. Baldwin, Thomas J. Rosatti.
Genus: RhusView DescriptionDichotomous Key

Habit: Shrub, tree; dioecious or flowers bisexual and pistillate. Leaf: simple or compound, deciduous or evergreen, entire, toothed, or lobed. Inflorescence: panicle, terminal on short twigs, open to dense; flowers +- sessile. Flower: stamens 5; styles 3, free or +- fused. Fruit: spheric or +- flat, glabrous or glandular-hairy, generally +- red; pulp thin or thick, +- resinous.
Species In Genus: +- 150 species: warm temperate. Etymology: (Greek: ancient name for sumac)
Unabridged Note: 2 species with pinnately compound leaves native to eastern North America, Utah, cultivated in California: Rhus glabra L., smooth sumac (petioles, young stems glabrous), Rhus typhina L., staghorn sumac (petioles, young stems densely hairy).
Reference: Yi et al. 2004 Molec Phylogen Evol 33:861--879
Unabridged Reference: Burke & Hamrick 2002 J Heredity 93:37--41; Miller et al. 2001 Int J Pl Sci 162:1401--1407; Li et al. 1999 J Torrey Bot Soc 126:279--288; Cronquist 1997 In: Intermountain Flora 3A: 313--315; Wannan & Quinn 1991 Bot J Linn Soc 107:349--385; Wannan & Quinn 1990 Bot J Linn Soc 103:225--252; Brizicky 1963 J Arnold Arbor 44:60--80; Barkley 1937 Ann Missouri Bot Gard 24:265--498
Rhus aromatica Aiton
Habit: Plant 0.5--2.5 m. Leaf: deciduous, thin, flat; petiole 5--15 mm; lobes or leaflets generally 3, crenate to +- lobed, abaxially tomentose to +- glabrous; terminal lobe or leaflet 10--35 mm, +- diamond-shaped, lateral 5--18 mm, generally ovate. Inflorescence: appearing before leaves; branches short, stiff. Flower: sepals yellow-green to +- red; petals generally yellow. Fruit: 5--8 mm diam, sparsely hairy, sticky, generally bright red-orange.
Ecology: Slopes, washes, scrub; Elevation: < 2200 m. Bioregional Distribution: CA-FP, DMoj (exc c), n DSon; Distribution Outside California: to southern Canada, central United States, northern Mexico. Flowering Time: Mar--May
Synonyms: Rhus aromatica Aiton var. simplicifolia (Greene) Cronquist; Rhus aromatica var. trilobata (Nutt.) A. Gray ex S. Watson; Rhus aromatica subsp. trilobata (Nutt.) W.A. Weber; Rhus trilobata Nutt.; Rhus trilobata var. anisophylla (Greene) Jeps.; Rhus trilobata var. malacophylla (Greene) Munz; Rhus trilobata var. quinata Jeps.; Rhus trilobata var. simplicifolia (Greene) F.A. Barkley; Rhus trilobata var. trilobata; Schmaltzia trilobata (Nutt.) Small; Toxicodendron trilobatum (Nutt.) Kuntze; Toxicodendron triphyllum var. trilobatum (Nutt.) Kuntze, nom. inval.
Jepson eFlora Author: John M. Miller & Dieter H. Wilken
Reference: Yi et al. 2004 Molec Phylogen Evol 33:861--879
Index of California Plant Names (ICPN; linked via the Jepson Online Interchange)

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Botanical illustration including Rhus aromatica

botanical illustration including Rhus aromatica


Citation for this treatment: John M. Miller & Dieter H. Wilken 2012, Rhus aromatica, in Jepson Flora Project (eds.) Jepson eFlora,, accessed on January 24, 2021.

Citation for the whole project: Jepson Flora Project (eds.) 2021, Jepson eFlora,, accessed on January 24, 2021.

Rhus aromatica
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© 2009 Thomas Stoughton
Rhus aromatica
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© 2013 Keir Morse
Rhus aromatica
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© 2008 Dean Kelch
Rhus aromatica
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© 2009 Gary A. Monroe
Rhus aromatica var. simplicifolia
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© 2013 Keir Morse
Rhus aromatica
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© 2012 Vernon Smith

More photos of Rhus aromatica in CalPhotos

Geographic subdivisions for Rhus aromatica:
CA-FP, DMoj (exc c), n DSon
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map of distribution 1
(Note: any qualifiers in the taxon distribution description, such as 'northern', 'southern', 'adjacent' etc., are not reflected in the map above, and in some cases indication of a taxon in a subdivision is based on a single collection or author-verified occurence).


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Data provided by the participants of the  Consortium of California Herbaria.
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All markers link to CCH specimen records. The original determination is shown in the popup window.
Blue markers indicate specimens that map to one of the expected Jepson geographic subdivisions (see left map). Purple markers indicate specimens collected from a garden, greenhouse, or other non-wild location.
Yellow markers indicate records that may provide evidence for eFlora range revision or may have georeferencing or identification issues.

CCH collections by month

Duplicates counted once; synonyms included.
Species do not include records of infraspecific taxa, if there are more than 1 infraspecific taxon in CA.
Blue line denotes eFlora flowering time (fruiting time in some monocot genera).