Rhus chinensis Anacardiaceae
Chinese Sumac, Nutgall Tree roos chih-NEN-sis
- Broadleaf deciduous shrub or tree, spreading open habit, to 25 ft (~7.5 m) tall and a similar width.
Leaves alternate, compound (pinnate), 20-40 cm long, with (5)7-13 leaflets, each ovate to ovate-
oblong, 5-12 cm long and about half as wide. tip pointed, margin serrate. upper surface bright green, lower
surface has brownish pubescence; rachis (leaf axis) and petiole (leaf stalk) often winged. Fall
color may be a drab yellow to yellow and orange-red. Flowers small, yellowish-white, in 15-25 cm
long clusters. Fruit globose, slightly compressed, 4-5 mm wide, orange red, densely pubescent,
matures in fall.
- Sun to light shade.
- Hardy to USDA Zone 5 (often listed as Zone 8, possibly for plants originating in warm areas of its
range). Native to China, Bhutan, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Laos,
Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam.
- Rhus chinensis has long been used in folk medicine in Asia. Leaves, roots, stems, bark, fruit
and particularly the galls on the leaves are recognized to have important preventative and therapeutic effects on
different ailments. The leaf galls are produced in response to an aphid, Melaphis chinensis, and are
rich in gallowtannis and other substances. The plant is sometimes refereed to as the Nutgall Tree.
The galls are a commercial product that is used in
Chinese medicine for the treatment of coughs, diarrhea, night sweats, and dysentery. Recent
scientific research has shown that compounds from Rhus chinensis possess strong antiviral,
antibacterial, anticancer, hepatoprotective, antidiarrheal and antioxidant activities [Phytotherapy Research 24:1739(2010].