Rhus lancea, Karee or African Sumac, is a small evergreen tree native to South Africa. In nature, the trees will reach about 25 feet (7 m) tall with an equal spread. The trifoliate, linear-lanceolate leaves are up to 5 inches (12.6 cm) long, and dark green but somewhat paler underneath. In older specimens, the dark grey bark has fissures that show beautiful reddish hues. Branches are reddish to brownish-grey. In containers, the trees will conform to the size of the container making them excellent bonsai subjects. They are very drought resistant after they are established in the landscape. These trees are hardy in the landscape in USDA zones 9-11.
Blooming: In the greenhouse, the trees bloom in early spring. The small greenish-white flowers are in panicles shorter than the leaves. The trees are dioecious.
Culture: Rhus lancea plants need full sun to partial shade, with a well-drained soil mix. In the greenhouse, we use a soil mix consisting of 2 parts peat moss to 1 part loam to 2 parts coarse sand. To this mix we add 1 cup of ground limestone for each 0.01 cu yards of soil mix. The trees are well watered and allowed to dry slightly before watering again. During the growing season, we fertilize them monthly with a balanced fertilizer. They are fast growers, often growing 2 feet (60 cm) a year in nature. In containers, they can grow as fast, but the size is often limited by container size. In the winter months, water is somewhat restricted and the nighttime temperatures are dropped to 55°F (13°C).
Propagation: Rhus lancea is propagated by seed and from cuttings taken in the spring.
Rhus lancea was featured as Plant of the Week November 24-30, 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.