UKTC Archive

RE: Rhus verniciflua (varnish tree) warning

Subject: RE: Rhus verniciflua (varnish tree) warning
From: Addison, Gilbert
Date: Dec 27 2006 10:08:24
I'm waiting to see how long it will be before some smart arse mentions
Risk Assessments - I would do it myself but you'd probably take me

Gilbert Addison
Tree and Countryside Officer
Breckland Council
Tel: 01362 XXXXXX
Fax: 01362 XXXXXX

-----Original Message-----
From: Peter Thurman [] 
Sent: 23 December 2006 09:54
To: UK Tree Care
Subject: RE: Rhus verniciflua (varnish tree) warning

That was very bad luck as this tree is quite rare in the UK. In America
they group some species of Rhus into the genus Toxicodendron. See:

It looks like they are a serious problem over there:

I would add that sap of Euphorbiaceae can also be dangerous. Fortunately
there are no trees of this genus hardy in the UK - but E. mellifera can
become a large shrub.


-----Original Message-----
From: []
Sent: 22 December 2006 20:07
To: UK Tree Care
Subject: Rhus verniciflua (varnish tree) warning

I felled an unfamiliar tree last week, after some debate I had guessed
it was a Rhus, but some variety, not typhina. No suckers, and looked
like it would grow too tall to be typhina. 
Not being familiar with the varnish tree I only warned the lads that the
sap was "horrible gungey stuff"  but J got some on his forearm when
carrying cordwood to the truck and ended up in casualty two days later
with  severe blistering chemical burns. The arm is healing slowly now.
I would  never have believed tree sap could cause such a bad burn if I
had not seen it  with my own eyes. Even the nurses and doctors had never
seen anything like it  before, and called all their colleagues over to
see for themselves.
So watch out: Rhus verniciflua, the varnish tree, is nasty stuff,
similar to giant hogweed by all accounts.
Andrew McManus
P.S. are there any other nasties out there ?
P.P.S. I missed this warning in 2002 but picked it out of the archives
Re: Other names?
"Edmund Hopkins"  <>
Wed, 31 Jul 2002 10:04:52  +0100
Baker, Rupert <> wrote:

Varnish tree is Rhus typhinus & is seriuosly dodgy - contact with wood

sawdust sap etc causes serious blistering & sensitisation

Morning Rupert, I thought that was Rhus verniciflua, rather than the

ubiquitous R typhina, causing acute dermatitis and hospitalisation,

typhina is also to be treated with caution. Was'nt there a piece in the

journal some years ago? 

Edmund Hopkins

Arboricultural Officer


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