African Sumac Podcast Script:

Welcome to the African Sumac Tree. To be scientific, the tree’s formal name is Rhus lancea. It belongs to the family Anacardiaceae. Like most other trees, the African Sumac is a dicot plant. If you’ll take a step back from the tree, you’ll notice that it is a rather small evergreen tree that can range from 15 to 30 feet in height with equal spread of its canopy. What you may not have already known is that during its growing season, the tree can grow an astonishing two feet per year.

Some of the tree’s most distinguishable features, as you may have observed, are its small, greenish-white flowers present in the spring. Also be sure to take a look at the trifoliate shiny, dark green leaves hanging from the branches like a willow tree. The leaves are capable of growing up to 5 inches long. If the berry-like fruit is present, it will be a yellowish color and contain small black seeds with a paper-like coating. The branches, which can clearly grow in almost every direction, range in color from a brownish-grey to red. At a larger distance from the tree, you can identify the African Sumac by its dense, green canopy, which I mentioned earlier, and its usually multi-trunk base. Depending on what angle you are viewing the tree from, you will be able to see this curvy and uncommon feature.

The flowers you may see are dioecious, meaning they have separate male and female parts on different trees. Because this tree had the greenish-white flowers that produced the berries, it must be a female tree. Inside of the berries that the flowers produced are the small black seeds of reproduction.

As suggested by its name, the African Sumac Tree is native to South Africa. Although it grows best in an arid climate such as in parts of Arizona, it has been introduced to several locations throughout the United States. The tree you see here in Davis is only present because someone introduced it to the area.

The African Sumac requires full sun to partial shade. While the tree is still maturing, it needs water every one or two weeks. Once the tree is established, it can go long periods of time with little to no water.
Due to the climate where the tree primarily grows, the African Sumac has adapted to become both drought and frost resistant.
One interesting fact about the African Sumac is that it is a popular tree on golf courses because it provides a lot of shade. Additionally, the tree is widely valued for its ornamental characteristics. Not only were the branches from the tree once used to make bows, but soaking the fruit of the species in milk can also be used to make beer.

Thank you for listening and also visiting the African Sumac Tree.

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