Sugar bush

Rhus ovata


Sugar bush is a large evergreen shrub with a dense foliage habit that commonly grows 10-15 ft. high and as wide. However, some long lived plants have developed into small trees with twisting trunks up to 35 ft. tall. Thick leaves are 1-3 in. long, deep glossy green and have a pointed apex. Attractive clusters of cream to pink colored flowers are showy in early spring and are followed by clusters of large flattened berries.

Sugar bush is native to the chaparral and sage scrub plant communities of California and is appreciated for its handsome foliage character and tolerance of summer drought. It is most often planted in native gardens and on slopes with adequate space to accommodate its potential size. It can also be clipped and maintained as a screen or background plant, as as it ages it can be pruned to reveal interesting trunk and bark character.

Plant Type: Shrub, Native
Foliage Character: Evergreen
Habit: Mounding, Low-branching, Dense
Growth Rate: Moderate
Foliage Color: Medium green
Flower Color: Pink
Flower Season: Spring
Soil Adaptations: Well-draining soil, Clay
Exposure Adaptations: Heat, Frost, Drought, Aridity, All day sun
Function: Wildlife value, Specimen, Slopes, Screening, Parks and open space, Foliage accent plant, California native, Background plant, Attracts butterflies, Hedge
Height: 8 ft. – 35 ft.
Width: 20 ft. – 25 ft.