Substances & Homeopatic Remedies

Rhus glabra

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Rhus glabra


Etymology – Rhus comes from the Greek, rhous, and the Latin, glabra = smooth.


Traditional name

Other names. Rhus carolinas, Rhus elegans, Rhus virginica (Wichman Natural Relationships)

Used parts

Homeopathic preparation.

The fresh bark, including that of the root, gathered when the plant is mature, should be chopped and pounded to a pulp and weighed. Then two parts by weight of alcohol are taken, the pulp well mixed with one - sixth part of it, and the rest of the alcohol added. After stirring the whole well, it should be poured into a well - stoppered bottle, and allowed to stand for eight days in a dark, cool place.

     The tincture, separated from the mass by filtration, should exhibit a beautiful, very deep crimson color by transmitted light. Its taste should be at first sour, then astringent, leaving a sensation upon the tongue very like that of alum; its odor sour - vinous; and its reaction strongly acid. (Millspaugh's Medicinal Plants)


Plantae; Spermatophyta, Angiospermae - Flowering Plants; Dicotyledonae; Rosiflorae / Rosidae; Rutales; Anacardiaceae - Poison Ivy Family (Wichman Natural Relationships)



Original proving


The tincture of the bark was proved by Dr. A. V. Marshall on himself with very substantial doses. (Murphy's Remedy Guide 2)


First proven by Dr. A. V. Marshall. (Douglass' Materia Medica)


The proving medicine was chosen from a group of medicines which were either unproven or scantily proven. They were selected by an individual who is a homoeopath and who took no active role in the proving. No person who took part in the direction, supervision or proving had prior knowledge of the medicine. As such the proving was a double blind trial.

     The proving of Rhus glabra was undertaken in the same trial as Molybdenum metallicum. Of the twenty eight provers who took part fifteen took Molybdenum, eleven took Rhus glabra and two took placebo. Prover A was given Rhus glabra some time after the original group proving with the knowledge of the proving director (not double blind).

     All provers were allocated a supervisor during the proving process. All of the group provers made diary records for a month beforehand and had a comprehensive constitutional case recorded before the proving commenced, so a proper assessment of the proving symptoms could take place.

     Provers commenced taking the remedy in early May 1993. They were asked not to avoid any of the ordinary drugs to which they were accustomed (tobacco, coffee, alcohol etc.) and to maintain a regular life style. They were instructed however, not to engage in any unusually excessive activities during the proving. Even though Hahnemann insists that substances such as these should be avoided during a proving (footnote to aphorism 125), I decided that it would be best to allow these substances in moderation as they are often indicative of the characteristic of disease totalities as they present in practice. Consequently, any action of a proving drug on these desires is of clear relevance in the remedy 'making' process. It is interesting to note that Hahnemann did not include his beloved tobacco in his footnote.

     The medicine was taken in thirtieth potency, one pill daily for up to seven days, with the direction to stop on appearance of proving symptoms. Diary entries were made for at least four weeks after taking the medicine.

     Selection of all proving symptoms from diaries was double checked to ensure accuracy. (Tumminello's Rhus Glabra)

The details of Marshall's proving are thoroughly reported in Allen's Encyclopaedia (Tumminello's Rhus Glabra)

Description of the substance

The smooth, or scarlet, sumac (R. glabra), native to the eastern and central United States, is the most common. It grows to a height of 6 metres (20 feet), with an open, flattened crown and a few stout spreading branches. A cultivated variety has much dissected, fernlike leaves.

any of certain species of shrubs and small trees belonging to the cashew family (Anacardiaceae), native to temperate and subtropical zones. All sumacs have a milky or resinous sap, which in a few species can cause a contact dermatitis. Used in the past as a source of dyes, medicines, and beverages, sumacs are now valued as ornamentals, soil binders, and cover plants. The sumacs grown for landscape use display a graceful habit, spectacular fall colour, or colourful fruit clusters.

Smooth sumac is a clonally reproducing shrub or small tree of disturbed sites from streambanks to xeric uplands, especially after fire.

Smooth sumac is a Missouri native, deciduous shrub which occurs on prairies, fields, abandoned farmland, clearings and along roads and railroads throughout the State. A large, open, irregular, spreading shrub which typically grows 8-15' tall and spreads by root suckers to form thickets or large colonies in the wild. Very similar to staghorn sumac (R. typhina), except the young stems of staghorn are densely pubescent whereas those of this species are smooth, hence the common name. Large, compound pinnate, shiny, dark green leaves (each with 9-27 leaflets) grow to 18" long with a fern-like appearance and turn attractive shades of bright orange to red in autumn. Tiny, yellowish-green flowers bloom in terminal panicles (5-10" long) in late spring to early summer, with separate male and female flowers appearing on separate plants (dioecious). Female plants produce showy, erect, pyramidal fruiting clusters (to 8" long). Each cluster contains numerous hairy, berry-like drupes which ripen red in autumn, gradually turning maroon-brown as they persist through most of the winter. Fruit is attractive to wildlife.

Botanical description.

Rhus glabra is a deciduous shrub, with terminal flowers, and fruit clothed with acid crimson hairs, like the other non-poisonous Rhus varieties.  

Rhus glabra is a shrub from six to fifteen feet high, consisting of many straggling, glabrous branches, covered with a pale, grey bark, often having a reddish tint. [

     The leaves are alternate, pinnate, and consisting of from six to fifteen leaflets, about three inches long and one fourth as wide. They are lanceolate, acuminate, acutely serrate, shining and green above, whitish beneath, sessile, except sometimes the terminal odd one; during the autumn they become red.  

     The flowers are greenish-red, and arranged in terminal, thyrsoid, dense panicles. There is a calyx of three sepals united at the base; petals five and stamens are five. These are inserted into the edge or between the lobes of a flattened disk in the bottom of the calyx. There are three styles and the stigmas are capitate.  

     The fruit, a small red drupe, hangs in clusters. When ripe they are covered with a crimson down (like the other non poisonous Rhus varieties), which is extremely sour to the taste, owing to the presence of malic acid in combination with lime.  (Tumminello's Rhus Glabra)


Rhus glabrum (or smooth sumach), is a shrub from six to fifteen feet high, consisting of many straggling, glabrous branches, covered with a pale, gray bark, having often a reddish tint.

     The  leaves  are alternate, odd - pinnate, and consisting of from six to fifteen leaflets, about three inches long and one - fourth as wide, lanccolate, acuminate, acutely serrate, shining and green above, whitish beneath, sessile, except sometimes the terminal odd one; during the fall they become red.

     The  flowers  are greenish - red, and arranged in terminal, thyrsoid, dense panicles.  Calyx  of three sepals united at base;  petals  five;  stamens  five; inserted into the edge or between the lobes of a flattened disk in the bottom of the calyx;  stylex  three;  stigmas  capitate.

      Fruit,  a small red drupe, hanging in clusters, and when ripe covered with a crimson down, which is extremely sour to the taste, owing to the presence of malic acid in combination with lime. (Hale's Materia Medica 1)


This smooth shrub usually attains a growth of from 5 to 15 feet in height.  Branches  somewhat straggling.  Leaves  old - pinnate;  petioles  crimson, 12 to 18 inches long;  leaflets  12 to 30, lanceolate - obling, acutely serrate, pointed, and whitened beneath.  Inflorescence  dense, terminal, thyroid panicles;  flowers  perfect, polygamous.  Sepals  lanceolate, or more or less triangular, very acute, nearly as long as the petals.  Petals  incurred at the apex.  Hypogynous disk  almost entire, its lobes, however, separating when a sepal is detached from the calyx, bringing away with it a stamen and petal;  lobe  somewhat reinform.  Fruit  globular, clothed with acid, velvety, crimso hairs;  stone  smooth.

      Rhus . This genus is widely distributed, and contain numerous species characterized in general as follows:  Leaves  usually compound.  Flowers  polygamous or diecious, greenish - while or yellowish - green;  sepals  5, small, united at the base, generally persistent;  petals  5, ovate, spreading, slightly hairy within.  Stamens  5, alternated with the petals;  filaments  inserved with the petals underneath the lobes of a chronic yellow hyogynos disk, situated at the base of the sepas.  Styles  3, short, generally united into one, sometimes distinct;  stigmas  3, capitate.  Fruit  consisting of many small, indescent, dry, drupes;  stone  or  nultlet  osseous;  seed  suspended from the apex of a functions that arises from the base, and extends to the apex of the cell;  cotyledons foliaceous . (Millspaugh's Medicinal Plants)


It grows on rocky or barren soils in North America. [1] (Tumminello's Rhus Glabra)

 Rhus glabra is one of our least nocuous species. It grows in rocky or barren soil, common throughout North America, flowering northward in June and July. (Millspaugh's Medicinal Plants)


Description: Rhus glabra has a medium-to-fine texture during the summer, and is coarse in the winter.
Leaves are compound and dark green in color. Flowers are in panicles and are yellow. Red, fuzzy fruit
occurs on the terminals in late summer through fall, persisting through winter. Fall colors are red, green, yellow, purple and orange. These plants produce large colonies by suckering. Suckers can travel ten feet or more from the parent plant.

Leaves are compound, alternate, and deciduous with 11-31 leaflets and a bright red rachis.  Leaves turn bright red in the fall. Twigs are stout with a smooth, waxy surface and heart-shaped leaf scars which encircle fuzzy lateral buds.  Bark is brown and smooth with lenticels.  Flowers are greenish-white. Fruit is a cluster of bright red drupes.  Smooth sumac is a shrub or small tree forming thickets in open areas in the east and central US. Intolerant of shade.

Related Species.-There are several species of Rhus, as the Rhus typhina, Staghorn or Velvet sumach; and the Rhus copallina, Mountain or Dwarf sumach, which possess similar virtues, and which must be carefully distinguished from those which possess poisonous properties. The non-poisonous species have their fruit clothed with acid crimson hairs, and their panicles are compound, dense, and terminal; the poisonous varieties have axillary panicles and smooth fruit (see also Rhus Toxicodendron and Related Species; and Coriaria, p. 607).