Rhus Tree

Also known as:
Wax Tree, Japanese Wax Tree, Poison Sumac, Rhus Succedanea
Himalaya to Japan

General description

Small deciduous tree up to 8 metres tall with brilliantly coloured autumn foliage. Compound leaves (20-35 cm in length), divided into 9 to 15 (usually 11) leaflets arranged in pairs with a single leaflet at the tip. Leaflets 4-10 cm x 2-3 cm. Leaves bright green above, greyish below during the summer months, changing to brilliant red in autumn before shedding. Flowers creamy white, 5 to 6 mm diameter, spring and early summer, in groups among new season’s leaves at the end of branchlets. Fruit, a brown berry which turns papery when ripe, hangs in clusters from autumn-winter, shed the following spring.


Seed spread by birds and vegetative reproduction through suckering.

It has the potential to compete with and replace native plant species. It can cause a severe allergic reaction to humans if skin contact is made, especially with the sap.

Site management

Recommended approaches

Caution: when using any herbicide or pesticide PLEASE READ THE LABEL THOROUGHLY to ensure that all instructions and safety requirements are followed.

Similar species

tree of heaven
Ailanthus altissima

Tree of heaven is taller, has larger compound leaves which have glands. Leaves have an unpleasant smell when crushed.

Japanese walnut
Juglans ailantifolia

Search tags

RPMS status

Surveillance - Whole Region
rhus tree - Main species image