Sugar Berry

Rhus ovata

Rhus ovata photo © by Michael Plagens

A number of stately Sugar Berry occur in Peralta Canyon, Superstition Mountains, Arizona where this photograph was taken Oct. 20, 2005. This image is also hosted at Wikipedia

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Rhus ovata photo © by Michael Plagens

The white flowers appear in late April to early May. The sepals and inflorescence branches are bright red. Rackensack Wash, New River Mts., Maricopa Co., Arizona. 29 April 2018.

TREE: A medium sized tree with sometimes multiple stems from the root crown, i.e. it can resemble a large shrub. Branches are often twisted and have colorful, scaly bark.

LEAVES: Dark green, shiny leaves are large by desert tree standards. Twigs and leaves are strongly aromatic when crushed. During rapid growth periods the terpene aroma may be detected a considerable distance from the plant.

RANGE: Upper Sonoran Desert particularly where it merges into Interior Chaparral vegetation type. Fairly common in central Arizona. With a bit of irrigation this beautiful tree makes a wonderful addition to a xeriscape and does well in Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona.

FLOWERS/FRUIT: Flower buds and young sprigs of berries are sumac-red and are borne in abbreviated panicles.

Anacardiaceae -- Sumac Family

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photo of Rhus ovata regrowing after the Cave Creek Complex Fire © Mike Plagens

Sugar Berry (Rhus ovata) quickly re-establishes after fire from underground roots. Photo taken along Rackensack Canyon, Maricopa County, USA, in May 2008 three years after the fire.

Sonoran Desert Field Guide
Sonoran Desert Places
Sonoran Desert Naturalist Home Page


Copyright Michael J. Plagens, page created 19 March 2007,
updated 4 May 2018.