Definitions

wig tree

Rhus lancea

Rhus lancea L.f. (syn. Searsia lancea (L. f.) F. A. Barkley), commonly known as Karee (English and Afrikaans) in Hlokoshiyne (isiZulu) Umhlakotshane (amaXhosa) Mokalaabata (North Sotho). Evergreen, frost hardy, drought resistant tree, which can reach up to 8 metres in height with a 5 metre spread. It has a graceful, weeping form and dark, fissured bark that contrasts well with its long, thinnish, hairless, dark-green, trifoliate leaves with smooth margins. It bears small yellow flowers followed on female trees by bunches of small yellow-green flattish fruits, which are relished by birds. In earlier times the fruits were pounded, water added and left to ferment, producing an evidently refreshing beer. The tree is a good shade tree for gardens, parks and pavements and is one of the most common trees on the Highveld and in the Bushveld in South Africa, but not found in the Lowveld. It favours areas rich in lime in the Karoo and Namibia. The name Rhus is derived from the Greek for "red", an allusion to the striking autumn colours of some species, while lancea refers to the lance-shaped leaves and Karee is derived from Karoo.

Relationships

Rhus lancea L.f. is one of about 36 South African Rhus species which reach tree size. The genus is widespread in Europe, America, Asia and Africa occurring in sub-tropical and warmer temperate regions. Rhus coriaria L. is the Sumac from Southern Europe - its leaves are used for tanning and dyeing. Rhus toxicodendron L. is the North American poison-ivy - its sap producing ulcerations or erysipelas. Rhus cotinus L. is the wig-tree found from the Mediterranean to China and often grown in shrubberies. Rhus vernicifera DC. is the lacquer-tree used in Japan - the lacquer is obtained by cutting slits in the bark. Rhus succedanea L. is the wax-tree of Japan - the crushed fruits yield wax.

The family Anacardiaceae also includes mangoes, cashews, pistachios and marulas.

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