Rhus integrifolia is a shrub to small tree. It is native to the Transverse and Peninsular Ranges and the South Coast regions of Southern California. This extends from Santa Barbara County and the Channel Islands to San Diego County and extending into north-central Pacific coastal Baja California and its offshore islands such as Cedros Island.
It is 1–8 metres (3.3–26.2 ft) in height, with a sprawling form, and is a member of the chaparral plant community often found in canyons and on north-facing slopes below elevations of 900 metres (3,000 ft). Rhus integrifolia often hybridizes with Rhus ovata.
Rhus integrifolia leaves are simple (unusual in a genus where most species are trifoliate), alternating, evergreen and leathery, ranging from two to four centimeters wide on reddish twigs; length of leaves is five to seven centimeters. Leaves are toothed with a waxy smooth appearance above and a paler tone below. The flowers which appear from February to May are small, clustered closely together, and may be either bisexual or pistillate.
These fragrant flowers exhibit radial symmetry with five green sepals, five white to rosy-pink petals, and five stamens. The small flowers are only six millimeters across. The ovary is superior and usually has a single ovule; although in pistillate flowers, the stamens are small and infertile. The mature fruit of Rhus integrifolia is sticky, reddish, covered with hairs, and about seven to ten millimeters in diameter. The elliptical fruit presents tight clusters at the very ends of twigs.
Many plants within this genus are considered toxic, although some reports indicate the berries of this species can be used to make lemonade flavored drinks (hence its common name). Allergic reactions may also result from skin contact with sap from some of the genera.