This section is from the book "An Illustrated Flora Of The Northern United States, Canada And The British Possessions Vol2", by Nathaniel Lord Britton, Addison Brown. Also available from Amazon: An Illustrated Flora of the Northern United States, Canada and the British Possessions. 3 Volume Set..
Rhus Toxicodendron L. Sp. Pl. 266. 1753.
T. pubescens Mill. Gard. Dict. Ed. 8, no. 2. 1768.
R. Toxicodendron quercifolium Michx. Fl. Bor. Am. 1: 183. 1803.
R. quercifolia Steud. Nomencl. 689. As synonym. 1821.
A low branching shrub, 3o high or less, spreading by underground branches, the young shoots densely pubescent. Leaves long-petioled, 3-foliolate; leaflets ovate to obovate in outline, firm in texture, dark green and sparingly pubescent above, paler green and densely velvety-pubescent beneath, 4' long or less, irregularly lobed, toothed or sinuate-margined; panicles 1' - 3' long; petals oblong, obtuse, veined; fruit pubescent when young, smooth or sometimes papillose when mature, depressed-globose, 3"-4 1/2" in diameter.
Dry woodlands, southern New Jersey and Delaware to Georgia, Alabama and Texas. April-May.
4. CÓTINUS Adans. Fam. Pl. 2: 345. 1763.
Shrubs or small trees, with alternate petioled ovate oval or obovate entire leaves, and small polygamous slender-pedicelled flowers in large terminal panicles. Calyx 5-parted, the segments imbricated, obtuse. Petals longer than the calyx, imbricated. Stamens 5. Ovary obovoid; styles 3, lateral; stigmas very small. Drupe obliquely oblong or oval, compressed, gibbous, 1-seeded. Seed nearly as in Rhus. [Greek name of the oleaster, or wild olive.]
Two known species, the following of southeastern North America, the other, Cotinus Cotinus (L.) Sargent, the generic type, native of Europe and Asia.
Rhus cotinoides Nutt.; T. & G. Fl. N. A. 1: 217.
A small widely branched tree, with maximum height of about 400 and trunk diameter of 15'. Leaves oval or slightly obovate, thin, glabrous or sparingly pubescent beneath, 3'-6' long, 1 1/2'-2' wide, obtuse at the apex, narrowed and commonly acute or acutish at the base, the blade slightly decurrent on the petiole; flowers 1"-1 1/2" broad, green, borne in loose large terminal panicles, pedicels elongating to 1' - 1 1/2' and becoming very plumose in fruit; drupe reticulate-veined, 2" long.
Rocky hills, Missouri and Oklahoma, east to Tennessee and Alabama. Wood soft, orange-yellow, yielding a rich dye; weight per cubic foot 40 lbs. Very nearly related to the European C Cotinus, which differs in its smaller coriaceous leaves, more pubescent, mostly rounded and obtuse at base. Yellow-wood. April-May.