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Anacardiaceae. Cashew or Sumac Family Plant Identification Characteristics.

Anacardiaceae
Plants of the Cashew or Sumac Family

      If you have ever had a rash from poison ivy or poison oak, then you have been introduced to the Cashew family. Poison oak, poison ivy, and poison sumac were formerly included in the Rhus genus, but are now separated into their own Toxicodendron genus. These two genera are the only members of the family found across the frost belt of North America. Most other members of the family live in the tropics, with a few representatives cultivated across the southern states, including the Peruvian pepper tree (Schinus), mango (Mangifera) and pistachio (Pistacia). The introduced hog plum or mombin (Spondias) grows on disturbed sites in southern Florida. The native poison tree (Metopium) is also in southern Florida, while the smoke tree (Cotinus) grows as far north as Tennessee.

      Botanically, these are trees or shrubs with alternate, often trifoliate or pinnate leaves, and usually resinous bark. The flowers can be either unisexual or bisexual, with 5 (sometimes 3) sepals united at the base and 5 (sometimes 3 or 0) petals. There are 5 or 10 stamens. The ovary is positioned superior and consists of 3 united carpels forming a single chamber. Only one carpel matures, forming a drupe (a fleshy fruit with a stoney seed). Worldwide, there are about 70 genera and 600 species, including 7 genera in North America. Several members of the family produce oils, resins and lacquers. Zebrawood (Astronium) is well-known as an exotic hardwood for furniture. The family name comes from the cashew tree (Anacardium). The fruits of all Rhus species are bright orange, while the Toxicodendron species have white or yellowish berries.

Key Words (for northern species):
Shrubs with three-lobed or pinnate leaves and single-seeded red or white fruits.

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Toxicodendron diversilobum, Rhus diversiloba. Poison Oak.

Toxicodendron diversilobum. Also known as Rhus diversiloba. Poison Oak.

Toxicodendron diversilobum, Rhus diversiloba. Poison Oak.

Toxicodendron diversilobum. Also known as Rhus diversiloba. Poison Oak. Photographed in northern California.

Toxicodendron rydbergii, Rhus rydbergii. Poison Ivy.

Toxicodendron rydbergii. Also known as Rhus rydbergii. Poison Ivy. Photographed in Montana.

Toxicodendron rydbergii, Rhus rydbergii. Poison Ivy.

Toxicodendron rydbergii. Also known as Rhus rydbergii. Poison Ivy. Photographed in Montana.

Foraging the Mountain West
Foraging the Mountain West
Toxicodendron rydbergii, Rhus rydbergii. Poison Ivy.

Toxicodendron rydbergii. Also known as Rhus rydbergii. Poison Ivy. Photographed in Montana.

Rhus aromatica. Fragrant Sumac.

Rhus aromatica. Fragrant Sumac.

Rhus aromatica. Fragrant Sumac.

Rhus aromatica. Fragrant Sumac. Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. Utah.

Rhus glabra. Smooth Sumac.

Rhus glabra. Smooth Sumac. Grande Ronde River, Washington.

Rhus glabra. Smooth Sumac.

Rhus glabra. Smooth Sumac.

Rhus glabra. Smooth Sumac.

Rhus glabra. Smooth Sumac. Lewiston, Idaho.

Rhus glabra. Smooth Sumac.

Rhus glabra. Smooth Sumac. Widespread in the eastern half of the United States, smooth sumac is widely planted elsewhere across the continent.

Schinus molle. Peruvian Pepper Tree.

Schinus molle. Peruvian Pepper Tree.

Schinus molle. Peruvian Pepper Tree.

Schinus molle. Peruvian Pepper Tree.

Schinus molle. Peruvian Pepper Tree.

Schinus molle. Peruvian Pepper Tree.

Schinus molle. Peruvian Pepper Tree.

Schinus molle. Peruvian Pepper Tree.

There are more
Cashew Family pictures
at PlantSystematics.org.


Botany in a Day: The Patterns Method of Plant Identification
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Botany in a Day
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Thomas J. Elpel
Roadmap to Reality: Consciousness, Worldviews, andthe Blossoming of Human Spirit
Roadmap
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Living Homes: Stone Masonry, Log, and Strawbale Construction
Living
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Participating in Nature: Wilderness Survival and Primitive Living Skills.
Participating
in Nature
Foraging the Mountain West: Gourmet Edible Plants, Mushrooms, and Meat.
Foraging the
Mountain West
Botany in a Day: The Patterns Method of Plant Identification
Botany
in a Day
Shanleya's Quest: A Botany Adventure for Kids
Shanleya's
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