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Laurel Sumac Malosma laurina (Rhus laurina)


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Family: Anacardiaceae, Cashew view all from this family

Description Large, rounded evergreen shrub or small tree. Leaves taco shell shaped, having the shape of laurel leaves when flattened. Tips of stems, veins of the leaves, and edges of leaves a glowing reddish color year round. Fragrant leaves and stems give chapparal its characteristic fragrance. Leaves and stems full of flamable compounds that give it scent. Leaves appear moist and supple all year long and are highly flammable. Adapted to frequent fires; after a burn a large burl underground resprouts new stems and leaves. One of the first plants to respout after fire. California dodder (Cuscuta californica) a parasitic plant which dies in the summer on other plants, can be seen covering laruel sumac in large stringy "cobwebs" of yellow/orange color. Flowers, very small, have five white petals and five-lobed green sepals. Large clusters reminiscent of lilac smell like green apples and occur at the ends of twigs in late spring and early summer. Fruit a whitish drupe with a smooth, flattish stone inside.

Dimensions Height: 5 m. (16 ft.)
Diameter: 15 cm. (6 ft.).

Habitat Cities, suburbs & towns, Scrub, shrub & brushlands.

Range California.

Discussion Laurel sumac is sensitive to cold and does not tolerate freezing conditions. Orange growers in the early history of southern California used to pick places to plant their oranges based on where laurel sumac was growing because this indicated it would not get too cold for oranges if laurel sumac could grow there.