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Products > Rhus integrifolia
Rhus integrifolia - Lemonade Berry
Image of Rhus integrifolia
[2nd Image]
Habit and Cultural Information
Category: Shrub
Family: Anacardiaceae (Sumacs, Cashew)
Origin: California (U.S.A.)
Evergreen: Yes
Flower Color: Light Pink
Bloomtime: Spring
Synonyms: [Schmaltzia integrifolia]
Height: 6-10 feet
Width: 10-15 feet
Exposure: Sun or Shade
Seaside: Yes
Summer Dry: Yes
Irrigation (H2O Info): Low Water Needs
Winter Hardiness: 15-20 F
Rhus integrifolia (Lemonade Berry) - This California native plant is an aromatic, evergreen shrub that typically grows 8 to 10 feet tall, sometimes taller and near the coast shorter, with a stout, short trunk and many spreading branches. The leaves are mid to dark green with a leathery texture, flat to slightly enrolled with a margin that usually has small sharp teeth and the petioles and central leaf veins are often attractively maroon to pink tinged. The small flowers, in tightly grouped clusters, are white to rose-pink in color and bloom at the tips of branches from February to May. The fruit is a sticky, flattish drupe that is covered with a fine reddish-brown down, inside of which is a hard stone of a seed about 1/4 inch long. Plant in full sun to light, or even dense shade. It is drought tolerant once established and cold hardy to 10F. This plant is often much shorter when planted on slopes where it is great for slope stabilization - on coastal slopes this plant grows no taller than 2 feet tall and can be 15 feet or more wide. It can also be kept smaller by regular light pruning and can even be trained as a formal hedge. If this plant becomes too big or too lanky, give it a hard pruning, even to the ground in late winter, and this plant will resprout new shoots rapidly. Use care when pruning as this sumac relative has sap that can cause a rash. Lemonade Berry is found growing naturally below 2,600 feet in coastal sage scrub and chaparral on dry, mostly open-facing slopes from Santa Barbara county to Baja. The sticky substance covering the fruit tastes like bitter lemons, which gives the plant its name. Rhus integrifolia with its smaller dentate margined leaves and Rhus ovata, with larger, darker and smoother margined leaves are similar plants with natural ranges that overlap and hybrids do occur. The name Rhus is derived from 'rhous', an ancient Greek name for Sumac and the specific epithet integrifolia indicates that the leaf margins are entire, not divided, as are many Rhus species. The name for this plant according to the Plant List (the collaboration between the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew and Missouri Botanic Gardens) is Schmaltzia integrifolia but treatment in the recent Jepson Manual has the current name as Rhus so we are sticking with this at least for the time being. The name Schmaltzia was given to the genus by French botanist Nicaise Auguste Desvaux (1784-1856) to honor Constantine Samuel Rafinesque (1783-1840), also known as Rafinesque-Schmaltz who, as a Turkish born multi-disciplinarian, made notable contributions in the nineteenth century to botany, zoology, anthropology and linguistics. 

This information about Rhus integrifolia displayed is based on research conducted in our horticultural library and from reliable online resources. We also will relate observations made about it as it grows in our nursery gardens and other gardens we have visited, as well how the crops have performed in containers in our nursery field. We will also incorporate comments that we receive from others and we welcome hearing from anyone with additional information, particularly if they can share any cultural information that would aid others in growing it.