There has been considerable uncertainty amongst botanists as to the best way of treating the genus Rhus, with some viewing it in a strict sense as comprising of around 35 species and electing to separate the other species into several distinct genera; whilst others prefer to view the genus in a looser sense being comprised of perhaps 250 species grouped into several subgenera. The genus is treated here in its strict sense, with many other species that have at times been included here being moved to the genera Cotinus, Searsia and Toxicodendron.
Melanococca tomentosa Blume
Otonvchium retusum Miq.
Rhus retusa Zoll. ex Engl.
Rhus rufa Teijsm. & Binn.
Rhus simarubaefolia A.Gray
Rhus taitensis is a tree growing up to 30 metres tall. The cylindrical bole, which sometimes has buttresses, is up to 70cm in diameter[
The tree is sometimes harvested from the wild as a source of timber and dyestuff. It has potential for use as a pioneer species when restoring native woodland or establishing woodland gardens[
The genus Rhus is being treated in its strict sense here, so it excludes the many species with highly toxic and irritant sap (these are included in Toxicodendron). Although the two genera are very similar, it is relatively simple to distinguish which is which, the poisonous species (Toxicodendron) have axillary panicles and smooth fruits whilst non-poisonous species (Rhus) have compound terminal panicles and fruits covered with acid crimson hairs[
Whilst the genus Rhus in this treatment is generally seen as having a non-toxic sap there are some suggestions that the sap of some species in the genus (including this one) can cause a skin rash in susceptible people.
Southeast Asia - Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, Papua New Guinea to Australia and the Pacific Islands.
Primary, dryland rain-forest, also in inundated forest along rivers, sometimes in clearings, secondary forest, or savannahs, rarely in forest on ultra-basic rock or on limestone; at elevations from sea-level up to 1,950 metres[
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A dioecious species, both male and female forms need to be grown if seed is required.
An important pioneer species, readily invading abandoned garden areas[
A black dye is obtained from the leaves[
]. It is sometimes applied to the hair, and is used for staining the teeth black[
The tree is occasionally logged for its timber[
]. The wood is used locally for making canoes[
]. The wood is used for general construction, wood carving, banana cases etc[
The wood is a favoured ful in the Pacific[
Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe. Pre-soak the seed for 24 hours in hot water (starting at a temperature of 80 - 90c and allowing it to cool) prior to sowing in order to leach out any germination inhibitors[
]. This soak water can be drunk and has a delicious lemon-flavour. The stored seed also needs hot water treatment prior to sowing[
]. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on until large enough to plant out.
Cuttings of half-ripe wood, 10cm with a heel[
Root cuttings 4cm long, potted up vertically. Good percentage[
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