california native flora

a drought tolerant patio garden of mostly natives

Sugarbush Journal

Rhus Ovata – Sugarbush (or Sugar Sumac)

April 20, 2010. - Rhus Ovata - Sugarbush.  Suddenly growing quickly.
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Rhus Ovata is a large shrub native to Southern California. It likes hot sun and little water once established although that establishment phase can be a long time coming. Slow growing at first, a settled plant will shoot up quite quickly to 8′ or more. It’s a dense shrub that will make a good hedge or screen albeit an informal one since it doesn’t take too well to the pruning shears.

The flower clusters are red and white, appearing in spring then later turning into berries that are edible to humans. If you are lucky enough to get to these before the birds my California native plant book says they can be used to make a nice fruity drink. I’m all about the wildlife though so the birds get first dibs.

I’m looking forward to seeing this one flower, the pictures I have seen on the internets are very interesting. Not much growth to report just yet though. A couple of months after planting a new shoot appeared from the base of the main trunk. That appears to be the only part growing at the moment – 4 leaf pairs in 6 months! Go sugarbush :)

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Plant Meta Data

Common NameSugarbush
Botanic NameRhus Ovata
Bloom PeriodSpring
Bloom Color
Light RequiredSun
Water ToleranceOccassional
Potential Size (H x W)10' x 10'
NotesAttracts Songbirds


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April 20, 2010. - Rhus Ovata - Sugarbush.  Suddenly growing quickly.Apr 3, 2010. - Rhus Ovata - SugarbushJan 10, 2010. - Rhus Ovata - SugarbushNov 8, 2009. - Rhus Ovata - Sugarbush