Botanical name: Toxicodendron
Botanical name: Toxicodendron
The toxicodendron (Toxicodendron) are a group of herbaceous plants, shrubs, and trees in the sumac family. Many of its species are famous for their skin-irritating properties, which are caused by a compound called urushiol. Some people can have extremely adverse reactions to toxicodendron, and these plants should be judiciously avoided. A few species of toxicodendron have uses, though – the irritating sap of the Laqcuer Tree (T. vernicifluum) has been used in east Asia for centuries to create a high-quality lacquer.
Species of Toxicodendron
Rhus sylvestris produces a rich brown dye due to the tannins in its leaves. The seeds also have value, as their oil can be used to make candles. These candles produce a bright flame and unpleasant-scented smoke. Sap in the stems is used as a lacquer on decorative objects.
The wax tree is a plant with yellowish-green flowers that is similar to the sumac tree. Because of the possibility of allergic reactions while handling plant parts, it is listed as a toxic weed in New Zealand and Australia. It is a city tree symbol in Kurume, Fukuoka, Japan.
In pop culture, poison ivy is a symbol of an obnoxious weed because, despite its unthreatening looks, it gives a highly unpleasant contact rash to the unfortunate person who touches it. Still, it is commonly eaten by many animals, and the seeds are a favorite with birds. The leaves turn bright red in fall. Its sister species, Western poison ivy (Toxicodendron rydbergii), is not considered to be invasive in the United States, but is noxious in Australia and New Zealand.
Pacific poison oak
Pacific poison oak is a woody vine or shrub found in the Western United States. Try to avoid this plant when hiking or camping, as the leaves and stem have a surface oil that causes an allergic skin reaction in 4 out of 5 people. A good reminder when it comes to pacific poison oak is “Leaves of three, let it be.”
Atlantic poison oak
Atlantic poison oak (Toxicodendron pubescens) is a plant native to North America that causes an itchy rash in sensitive people. The plant can appear shrub-like or vine-like, with young leaves being bright green or reddish, and older stalks appearing grayish or woody.
Western poison ivy
Western poison ivy (Toxicodendron rydbergii) is a perennial shrub that grows similar to a vine. It produces very small, cup-like white flowers in summer, followed by white fruit that ripens in fall. Fruit can remain on the stems all winter. The oils of the plant are highly toxic and even the slightest brush against this shrub can cause dermatitis outbreaks with a rash of itchy blisters. Grows in sun or partial shade.
Mountain lacquer tree
The leaves are odd-winged double leaves with 4-8 pairs of leaflets. The leaves are ring-shaped and the smaller the lower leaves. Hair grows densely on both sides of the leaf. The leaves of mature trees are rounded but the leaves of young trees have saw teeth. The petioles and leaf stems also have hair and are reddish. It turns red in the fall. It is a hermaphroditic strain with yellow-green flowers around spring. The fruit is tonsil-like and has stings on the surface.
Poison sumac (Toxicodendron vernix) is a woody shrub whose oil causes an itchy, burning rash. It's considered more allergenic than poison ivy and poison oak. The sap from this plant is sometimes used to make a black varnish for woodworking.
Chinese lacquer tree
Chinese lacquer tree (Toxicodendron vernicifluum) is an important commercial tree. The sap of the chinese lacquer tree is used for making lacquer - a pigmented coating that creates a glossy finish. This sap contains a chemical compound called urushiol that has allergenic properties. The wax from the tree is used for candles.
The manzanillo (Toxicodendron striatum) are a group of herbaceous plants, shrubs, and trees in the sumac family. Many of its species are famous for their skin-irritating properties, which are caused by a compound called urushiol. Some people can have extremely adverse reactions to manzanillo, and these plants should be judiciously avoided. A few species of manzanillo have uses, though – the irritating sap of the Laqcuer Tree (T. vernicifluum) has been used in east Asia for centuries to create a high-quality lacquer.