Rhus coriaria L.

Hardy, deciduous, small to medium-sized shrub or small tree with pinnate leaves, with up to 21 toothed leaflets. and greenish-white female flowers in loose terminal panicles in summer followed by brownish-purple fruits.  To 3m.  [RHSD, Hortus, Hilliers’].

Horticultural & Botanical History

The Sumach of commerce is obtained from the leaves, and tannin obtained from both leaves and shoots is used in the preparation of morocco leather.  The common name Sumach is shared with a number of related species but especially applied to Rhus coriaria.  Introduced to Britain by 1640.  [JD].  ‘Sumach.  Rhus obsoniorum.  This seldom grows to be a tall tree; the leaves are a bluish dark green on the face, and a light willow green on the back, & the flowers a whitish yellow.  It grows in Italy, Spain and Turkey, and flowers in May and June.  The leaves and seed are accounted restringent and stiptic, and good for all fluxes and haemorrhages; both used inwardly and outwardly.  They are also good to resist putrefactions and stop gangrenes and mortifications.  They are used in the Syripus Myrtinus.’  [Blackwell pl.486/1739].

History at Camden Park

Rhus coriaria is marked with a ‘c’ in an 1836 edition of Loddiges’ catalogue held at Camden Park [CPA].  In William Macarthur’s code, used and explained elsewhere, this means grown at Camden.  It is almost certain that it was grown in the gardens around this time but it did not appear in the catalogues and may have been short-lived.  Macarthur was probably interested in the utility of this plant in tanning and dying, and possibly its medicinal uses, rather than any ornamental value.


Published Apr 02, 2010 - 04:50 PM | Last updated Apr 02, 2010 - 04:54 PM

The plate depicts pinnate leaves, loose panicle of small flowers and detail of fruits.  Blackwell pl.486, 1739.

Rhus coriaria L. | Blackwell pl.486/1739 | BHL

More details about Rhus coriaria L.
Family Anacardiaceae
Region of origin

Southern Europe

Common Name

Sumach, Tanners sumach

Name in the Camden Park Record

Rhus coriaria 

Confidence level high