Hansen's Northwest Native Plant Database

Rhus trilobata (Three Leaf Sumac, Skunkbush)


 Plantae Plants


 Tracheobionta Vascular plants


 Spermatophyta Seed plants


 Magnoliophyta Flowering plants


 Magnoliopsida Dicotyledons






 Anacardiaceae Sumac family


 Rhus L. sumac


 Rhus trilobata Nutt. skunkbush sumac

The name Skunkbush was given this shrub due to the odd odor emitted when the leaves are crushed.

This sumac is a deciduous 3-8 shrub with a dense rounded habit.

It is native to dry sunny regions across most of the western US and as far east as Texas in USDA zones 3-9.

Native Americans produced baskets from the branches, a black dye from the leaves and used the berries in ointments.

The yellow flower clusters appear before the three lobed glossy leaves in spring.

The red berries are edible but not considered tasty, the birds like them and they persist into winter as a food source.

The fall leaf color provides a vivid display of bright reds and yellows.


     Above left, autumn color from Albuquerque BioPark on Flickr; above right, blooms from Sally King, NPS.

Below left, green fruits; below right, ripe fruits, both photos from Stan Shebs. Photos above and below per Creative Commons.    

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