Rhus laurina or Laurel Sumac is an evergreen shrub or small tree native to Southern California and Baja. The laurel-like leaves are very aromatic, with ovate-elliptical to ovate leaves, mucronulate, and up to 4 inches (10 cm) long. Leaves are light shiny green and leathery, often edged with pink petioles. They are fairly rapid growers reaching 15 feet (~4 m) in height, with attractive red branches and reddish-brown bark. They are hardy in USDA zones 10-11.
Blooming: In the greenhouse, the trees bloom in summer with small whitish flowers in dense branched clusters that are 4-6 inches (10-15 cm) long.
Culture: Rhus laurina need full sun to partial shade with a well-drained soil mix. In the greenhouse, we use a soil mix consisting of equal parts of loam and sand, with small gravel added to ensure good drainage. The trees are very drought tolerant. For best results, we water these plants well and then allow them to dry in between waterings. We fertilize the trees once during the growing season with a balanced fertilizer. Since they are rapid growers, trees need to be kept pruned to keep their desired form. If they are not trimmed, they tend to get rangy. Re-potting should be done every 3-4 years. During the winter months, water should be restricted, but not enough to cause leaf drop.
Propagation: Rhus laurina is propagated from seed, root cutting and layers.
Rhus laurina was featured as Plant of the Week January 6-12, 2006.
Guide to Past Plants-of-the-Week:
Cal's Plant of the Week was provided as a service by the University of Oklahoma Department of Microbiology & Plant Biology and specifically the late Cal Lemke, who used to be OU's botany greenhouse grower and an avid gardener at home as well. If the above links don't work, then try the overview site. You may also like to look at the thumbnail index. ©1998-2012 All rights reserved.