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Lemonade Sumac
Rhus integrifolia
About Lemonade Sumac (Rhus integrifolia) Nurseries Show All Photos Lemonade Berry is a shrub or small tree, with a variable form. They tend to grow upright (10- 30 feet tall) when somewhat inland, and low and sprawling (3-6 feet tall by up to 30 feet wide) when close to the ocean. It is native to Southwestern and Pacific coastal California from Santa Barbara County to western San Diego County, with its range extending to north-central Pacific coastal Baja California and some offshore islands like Cedros. It is a member of the chaparral plant community and is often found in coastal canyons below elevations of 900 meters, where it sometimes blankets entire hillsides. There is a small inland population on Mount Palomar at over 1000 meters. The Lemonade Berry's leaves are evergreen and leathery, ranging from two to four centimeters wide on reddish twigs; length of leaves is five to seven centimeters. Leaves are toothed with a waxy appearance above and a paler tone below. The flowers which appear from February to May are small, sticky and clustered closely together. The fruit is dark red, block-shaped and sticky, and has a tart flavor which gives the plant it's name. Lemonade Berry is an important wildlife plant. The berries are a significant food source for birds and small mammals, and the thick sprawling form provides excellent animal shelter.

Lemonade Berry is tough and easy to grow. It is very similar in appearance to Sugar Bush, though with leaves that are more rectangular and leathery. This plant is extremely drought tolerant and once established, will stay green and healthy looking year round without any supplementary summer water. It is a great plan for bank stabilization, and is fire retardant.

Lemonade Sumac is very closely related to Sugar Sumac, with the former being the predominant species inland, and the latter along the coast. A good rule of thumb for landscaping applications is within 5-10 miles of the coast, Lemonade Berry is a better choice. More inland, Sugar Sumac does better.
Plant Description
Plant Type

Max. Height
3 - 30 ft (0.9 - 9.1 m)

Max. Width
3 - 20 ft (0.9 - 6.1 m)

Mounding, Rounded


Growth Rate
Fast, Moderate


Stiff, leathery, thick, waxy coated. Unlike related Rhus ovata, leaves lie flat and are not folded along the central vein

Flower Color

Flowering Season
Spring, Winter

Native Status

Natural Setting
Site Type
Coastal canyon slopes and flats, foothills

Part Shade, Sun

Elevation ?
-167' - 7419'

Annual Precip. ?
3.6" - 39.3"

Summer Precip. ?
0.14" - 2.72"

Coldest Month ?
33.5° F - 59.2° F

Hottest Month ?
59.0° F - 88.3° F

Humidity ?
0.83 vpd - 40.37 vpd

Soil Description
Many soil types

Soil Texture
Loam, Loamy Sand, Sandy Clay Loam, Sandy Loam, Silt Clay Loam

Soil PH
5.0 - 8.0

Fast, Medium, Slow

Cold Tolerance(° F)
Tolerates cold to 25° F

Sunset Zones ?
8, 9, 14*, 15, 16*, 17*, 19, 20*, 21*, 22*, 23*, 24*

Companion Plants
Toyon, Scrub Oaks, Chaparral Mallow, California Encelia, California Sagebrush, Yucca spp, various cactus species

Wildlife Attracted
Many birds, small mammals and insects

Landscaping Information
Ease of Care
Very Easy

Water Requirement ?
Extremely Low, Very Low
Extremely Low
Very Low
Moderate - High

Very Popular

Max. Summer Water ?

No Summer Water
Keep moist

Organic with Rocks

Takes pruning very well; may be pruned or sheared as desired at any time of year. May be pruned as a hedge or tree form

Propagation ?
For propagating by seed: Hot water. For maximum germination, soak in concentrated H2S04 for 4-6 hrs., depending on seed batch and age.

Common uses
Bank Stabilization, Hedges, Deer Resistant, Bird Gardens

Nursery Availability
Commonly Available

Other Names
Common Names
Lemonade Berry

Sources include: Wikipedia. All text shown in the "About" section of these pages is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. Plant observation data provided by the participants of the California Consortia of Herbaria, Sunset information provided by Jepson Flora Project. Propogation from seed information provided by the Santa Barbara Botanical Garden from "Seed Propagation of Native California Plants" by Dara E. Emery. Sources of plant photos include CalPhotos, Wikimedia Commons, and independent plant photographers who have agreed to share their images with Calscape. Other general sources of information include Calflora, CNPS Manual of Vegetation Online, Jepson Flora Project, Las Pilitas, Theodore Payne, Tree of Life, The Xerces Society, and information provided by CNPS volunteer editors, with special thanks to Don Rideout. Climate data used in creation of plant range maps is from PRISM Climate Group, Oregon State University, using 30 year (1981-2010) annual "normals" at an 800 meter spatial resolution.

Links:   Jepson eFlora Taxon Page  CalPhotos  Wikipedia  Calflora

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