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Plant type



2 - 8 ft Tall
8 ft Wide


Mounding, Rounded

Growth rate



Winter Deciduous


Cream, Yellow

Flowering season


Common uses


Rhus trilobata is a shrub in the Anacardiaceae (Cashew) family with the common name Fragrant Sumac and several others. It was formerly classified as Rhus trilobata and some sources still refer to it that way. It is native to western North America. In California it occurs in many parts of the state including the northern Coast Ranges, Sierra foothills and southern coastal mountains. It can be found from deserts to mountain peaks up to about 7,000 feet in elevation. The pale yellow flowers are followed by a red, fleshy drupe that has a sticky coating, similar to Lemonade Berry. This species closely resembles other members of the genus that have leaves with three "leaflets" ("trifoliate" leaves), including Poison-oak. People with sensitivity to Poison-oak should use caution around Fragrant Sumac. The shape of the leaflets and the habit of the shrub make this species, like some other Rhus, resemble small-leafed oaks (Quercus). The plant is deciduous and exhibits good fall color.


Full Sun



Summer irrigation

Max 1x / week once established

Ease of care


Cold tolerance

Tolerates cold to -15° F

Soil drainage


Soil description

Prefers sandy soil.
Soil PH: 6.0 - 8.0


For propagating by seed: Hot wa ter or soak in concentrated H2S04 1-3 hrs., then 2-3 mos. stratification.

Sunset Zones

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6*, 7*, 8, 9, 10, 14*, 15, 16, 17, 18*, 19*, 20*, 21*, 22, 23, 24

Use with Manzanita (Arctostaphylos spp.), Western Redbud (Cercis occidentalis), Pines (Pinus spp.), Oaks (Quercus spp.), Juniper (Juniperus spp.), and most chaparral plants

Western Redbud

Cercis occidentalis


Butterflies and moths supported

0 confirmed and 20 likely

Confirmed Likely

Western Avocado Leafroller Moth

Amorbia cuneana

Salt-and-Pepper Geometer|Cleft-Headed Looper

Biston betularia

Caloptilia diversilobiella

Caloptilia ovatiella

Site type

Slopes, washes, canyons, mesas, and desert mountains

Plant communities

Chaparral, Creosote Bush Scrub, Foothill Woodland, Pinyon-Juniper Woodland,