=Habitat and Range.=--In widely varying soils and localities; river
banks, rocky slopes to an altitude of 2000 feet, cellar-holes and waste
places generally, often forming copses.
From Nova Scotia to Lake Huron.
Common throughout New England.
South to Georgia; west to Minnesota and Missouri.
=Habit.=--A shrub, or small tree, rarely exceeding 25 feet in h
trunk 8-10 inches in diameter; branches straggling, thickish, mostly
crooked when old; branchlets forked, straight, often killed at the tips
several inches by the frost; head very open, irregular, characterized by
its velvety shoots, ample, elegant foliage, turning in early autumn to
rich yellows and reds, and by its beautiful, soft-looking crimson cones.
=Bark.=--Bark of trunk light brown, mottled with gray, becoming dark
brownish-gray and more or less rough-scaly in old trees; the season's
shoots densely covered with velvety hairs, like the young horns of deer
(giving rise to the common name), the pubescence disappearing after two
or three years; the extremities dotted with minute orange spots which
enlarge laterally in successive seasons, giving a roughish feeling to
=Winter Buds and Leaves.=--Buds roundish, obtuse, densely covered with
tawny wool, sunk within a large leaf-scar. Leaves pinnately compound,
1-2 feet long; stalk hairy, reddish above, enlarged at base covering the
axillary bud; leaflets 11-31, mostly in opposite pairs, the middle pair
longest, nearly sessile except the odd one, 2-4 inches long; dark green
above, light and often downy beneath; outline narrow to broad-oblong or
broad-lanceolate, usually serrate, rarely laciniate, long-pointed,
slightly heart-shaped or rounded at base; stipules none.
=Inflorescence.=--June to July. Flowers in dense terminal, thyrsoid
panicles, often a foot in length and 5-6 inches wide; sterile and
fertile mostly on separate trees, but sterile, fertile, and perfect
occasionally on the same tree; calyx small, the 5 hairy,
ovate-lanceolate sepals united at the base and, in sterile flowers,
about half the length of the usually recurved petals; stamens 5,
somewhat exserted; ovary abortive, smooth; in the fertile flowers the
sepals are nearly as long as the upright petals; stamens short; ovary
pubescent, 1-celled, with 3 short styles and 3 spreading stigmas.
=Fruit.=--In compound terminal panicles, 6-10 or 12 inches long, made up
of small, dryish, smooth-stoned drupes densely covered with acid,
crimson hairs, persistent till spring.
=Horticultural Value.=--Hardy throughout New England. Grows in any
well-drained soil, but prefers a deep, rich loam. The vigorous growth,
bold, handsome foliage, and freedom from disease make it desirable for
landscape plantations. It spreads rapidly from suckers, a single plant
becoming in a few years the center of a broad-spreading group. Seldom
obtainable in nurseries, but collected plants transplant easily.
The cut-leaved form is cultivated in nurseries for the sake of its
exceedingly graceful and delicate foliage.
1. Winter buds.
2. Branch with staminate flowers.
3. Staminate flower.
4. Branch with pistillate flowers.
5. Pistillate flower.
6. Fruit cluster.
=Rhus Vernix, L.=
Rhus venenata, DC.