Rhus succedanea (PROSEA)

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Plant Resources of South-East Asia
List of species

Rhus succedanea L.

Protologue: Mant. pl. 2: 221 (1771).


Toxicodendron succedanea (L.) Moldenke (1946).

Vernacular names

  • Wax tree, Japanese wax tree (En)
  • Thailand: kaen mo (north-eastern), makok kiam (south-western), makkak khao (south-eastern)
  • Vietnam: sơn dầu, sơn lắs.


Found from India, Burma (Myanmar), Thailand, to Indo-China, China, Taiwan, the Ryukyu Islands and Japan; in Malesia found in Peninsular Malaysia and northern Sumatra, formerly rarely cultivated in Java.


The wax of R. succedanea is used medicinally to seal wounds and as a medium for ointments. In India, horn-like galls on the branches are credited with astringent, tonic, expectorant and stimulant properties. They are used for diarrhoea and dysentery in children. R. succedanea is cultivated in Japan, China and Vietnam for the fruits from which a wax (sumach wax, Japan tallow, vegetable wax) is extracted for use in varnishes, polishes, ointments, and plasters. The fruits are applied in the treatment of epilepsy, hiccups, hysteria and vomiting. It is a popular plant for cultivation as a bonsai.


A small tree or shrub up to 5(-15) m tall, stem up to 50 cm in diameter; leaves imparipinnate with (2-)3-4(-6) pairs of leaflets, rachis (1.5-)8-27 cm long, petiole 4-6 cm long, leaflets lanceolate to linear, 3-8 cm × 1.3-2.5 cm, base obliquely cuneate, apex acuminate, entire, lower surface sparsely pubescent, usually with a group of reddish brown papillae or glands in the axils of the veins; inflorescence axillary, paniculate, up to 24 cm long, branches up to 10 cm long; flowers usually bisexual, creamy white, calyx lobes triangular, petals ovate or slightly oblong, 1-1.5 mm × 0.7 mm, stamens 1.5-2.5 mm long, ovary subglobose, glabrous; drupe subglobose, 5-8 mm in diameter, dull yellowish when ripe, exocarp separating from mesocarp in ripe fruits. R. succedanea is found on open slopes or along streams in montane forest at 900-2200 m altitude.

Selected sources

  • Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, 1948-1976. The wealth of India: a dictionary of Indian raw materials & industrial products. 11 volumes. Publications and Information Directorate, New Delhi, India.312, 407, 616, 617, 618, 647, 712, 786.


S. Aggarwal