AZ Arboretums

Rhus ovatai

Sugar bush

Common: Sugar bush, Chaparral Sumac
Family: Anacardiaceae
Origin: Arizona, California, northwestern Mexico, 4000 to 6000 feet elevation (1200-1800 m), in canyons
Light: Full sun
Little to moderate water, drought tolerant
Soil: Well drained soil

Dense rounded evergreen shrub growing  8-15 ft. tall & wide with creamy flowers between March & May. Small red fruit.  Grows well in inland areas and is drought tolerant. Native dry mountain slopes 3-5000' Arizona, Southern California into Baja, California. Leathery rich dark green foliage. Needs additional water in low desert every 2 weeks or afternoon shade.  Well drained site.  Susceptible. to verticillium wilt in wet areas. Zone 8.

The hairy reddish berries, 0.12 inch in diameter (3 mm), can be eaten raw or cooked, it has a thin layer of flesh. It can also be soaked for 30 to 60 minutes in water to make a refreshing lemonade like drink. Tight clusters of very small white to pink flowers with 5 petals, clusters occur at ends of twigs and are 2 to 3 inches long, appearing in spring.

You can use as a screen, hedge or specimen. The plant needs little tidying to look tidy.

In areas that are fire prone, water once a month in the summer between plants or wash the foliage off with 15 minutes of sprinklering once every week or two and make sure there are NO weeds near the plants.