Saturday, November 21, 2009

Rhus chinensis top, and a hillside planting of Rhus aromatica 'Grow-Low' and Itea virginica 'Henry's Garnet' on the north side of our main parking lot

Rhus is a fun genus in the Anacrdiaceae, the Cashew Family. Traditionally Poison Ivy and Poison Oak have resided in the genus, though some current classification schemes reassign them to their own genus. One of the characteristics of the family is the presence of resin passages, and many of the plants are fragrant....Fragrant Sumac for example, like the plants on the slope! It's a fairly chemically active family; the fruits of the non-poisonous Rhus are used variously around the world for seasoning. Stefan and Martin were particularly impressed with the taste of Rhus coriaria which they encountered as a seasoning for meat, throughout their Azerbaijani trip. The Rhus chinensis pictured is one of a number in China Valley; this one is about 50' to the right of the intersection of the China Valley Path and the road.

The slope planting is one more example of an improvement we've made here, a medium-sized project that took a dysfunctional eyesore and turned it into a pleasant simple planting of four native taxa. The Red-leafed plants are Itea, the yellow/orange are Fragrant Sumac. I was part of the project that ripped out the English Ivy last year but didn't get to participate in this year's planting. I do get to walk or drive by it a few times a day and it's wonderful.

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