PLANT: Sparsely branched shrubs or small trees, to 3 m tall; bark gray, lenticular; twigs gray, puberulent to glabrate. LEAVES: evergreen, petiolate, odd-pinnately compound, 5-9 foliolate; petiole to 2 cm long; leaflets petiolulate to subsessile, lanceolate or elliptic to ovate, 25-50 mm long, 10-25 mm wide, entire, leathery, dull green above, paler and puberulent to glabrate beneath; apices acute to acuminate; bases cuneate to rounded (sometimes obliquely). INFLORESCENCE: open panicles, to 8 cm long and 15 cm wide, terminal and axillary, puberulent; bracts lanceolate, pubescent, to 2 mm long. FLOWERS: to 5 mm long; sepals ovate, olivegreen, glandular puberulent; petals cream, glabrous. FRUIT: lenticular-orbicular, to 6 mm in diameter, orange, glandular pubescent, wrinkled in dried specimens. NOTES: Dry, often rocky hillsides, steep slopes, and canyons, upper edge of the Chihuahuan Desert to semidesert grassland, chaparral, oak woodland, and as understory along washes and riparian zones: Cochise, Pima, and Santa Cruz cos.; 1100-1870 m (3600-6000 ft); Aug-Sept (fruits may persist overwinter); se AZ, s NM, w TX and n Mex. AZ material has been called Rhus choriophylla Wooton & Standley (Type: Guadalupe Canyon, on the Mexican boundary, near the southwest corner of New Mexico, Mearns 699, US) based on fewer, larger, and glabrous leaflets and axillary as well as terminal inflorescences (Wooton and Standley 1913; Barkley 1937); but, it has been considered a weak variety (Vines 1960; Shreve and Wiggins 1964; Correll and Johnston 1970). These morphological characters are not consistently present in AZ specimens; therefore, AZ material is best treated as the far w portion of the range of Rhus virens Lindh. and not a separate taxon. REFERENCES: John L. Anderson, 2006, Vascular Plants of Arizona: Anacardiaceae. CANOTIA 3 (2): 13-22.
Anderson 2007, Benson and Darrow 1981
Common Name: evergreen sumac Duration: Perennial Nativity: Native Lifeform: Tree General: Sparsely branched shrubs or small trees to 3 m tall; gray bark, lenticular, gray twigs, puberulent to glabrate. Leaves: Evergreen, petiolate, odd-pinnately compound, 5-9 fololate; petiole to 2 cm; leaflets petiolulate to subsessile, lanceolate or elliptic to ovate, 25-50 mm long, 10-25 mm wide, entire, leathery, dull green above, paler and puberulent to glabrate beneath, acute to acuminate apices, bases cuneate. Flowers: Ovate sepals, olive-green to 5 mm long, glandular puberulent; cream petals; in open panicle 8 by 15 cm long, terminal and axillary. Fruits: Lenticular-orbicular berry, to 6 mm in diameter, orange, glandular pubescent. Ecology: Found on dry, often rocky slopes from 3,500-6,000 ft (1067-1981 m); flowers August-September. Distribution: s AZ, s NM, sw TX; south to n MEX. Notes: A large evergreen shrub distinguished by its pinnate leaves with 5-9 large, leathery, shiny leaflets with pointed tips; and the white flowers in clusters followed by characteristic red, sour-tasting sumac berries. Some have noted var. choriophylla as a separate variety based on fewer, larger, and glabrous leaflets, as well as terminal axillary inflorescences; Anderson suggests that all Rhus virens in Arizona belongs in the same taxon. Ethnobotany: Unknown, but other species in the genus have many uses. Etymology: Rhus is derived from rhous, a Greek work for sumac, while virens means green. Synonyms: None Editor: SBuckley 2010; FSCoburn 2015