Herb latin name: Rhus sylvestris

Family: Anacardiaceae (Cashew Family, Sumac Family)

Description of the plant:


Habitat of Rhus sylvestris:

Low mountains, C. and S. Japan.

Other uses of the herb:

The leaves are rich in tannin. They can be collected as they fall in the autumn and used as a brown dye or as a mordant. An oil is extracted from the seeds. It attains a tallow-like consistency on standing and is used to make candles. These burn brilliantly, though they emit a pungent smoke. A lacquer is obtained from the sap of this plant. This species does not yield a varnish.

Propagation of Rhus sylvestris:

Seed - best sown in a cold frame as soon as it is ripe. Pre-soak the seed for 24 hours in hot water (starting at a temperature of 80 - 90c and allowing it to cool) prior to sowing in order to leach out any germination inhibitors. The stored seed also needs hot water treatment and can be sown in early spring in a cold frame. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, 10cm with a heel, July/August in a frame. Root cuttings 4cm long taken in December and potted up vertically in a greenhouse. Good percentage. Suckers in late autumn to winter.

Cultivation of the herb:

Low mountains, C. and S. Japan.

Medicinal use of Rhus sylvestris:

None known

Known hazards of Rhus sylvestris:

This plant contains toxic substances which can cause severe irritation to some people. The fresh sap causes skin blisters.

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.