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Weed Identification

winged sumac



Scientific Name

Rhus copallinum

Other Common Names:

dwarf sumac
flameleaf sumac
shining sumac

Synonyms (former Scientific Names):

Rhus copallina


The leaflets are narrowed or rounded at the base and sharply pointed at the tip with finely serrated margins. The leaflets are dark green and smooth above, and pale beneath, except along the midrib.

Identifying Characteristics

Winged sumac is a native, deciduous, large shrub that rarely exceeds 10 feet. It has alternate, compound leaves, 16-24 inches long, with a winged leafstalk. Because most populations of sumac have male and female flowers on separate plants, only the female plants produce seed. Occasionally, plants are found which have both male and female flowers. The germination of sumac seeds is enhanced by their passage through the digestive system of rabbits, ring-necked pheasants, and quail. The presence of fire also encourages increased germination. There are about 60,000 seeds per pound.

Flower Seed Head

Compact clusters of greenish-yellow flowers bloom from July to September. Fruits mature later in the fall.

Seed Fruit

The fruiting head is a compact cluster of round, red, hairy fruits called drupes. Each drupe measures 1/4 inch in diameter and contains one seed. Each cluster of drupes may contain 100 to 700 seeds. Fruit is produced on plants 3 to 4 years old.

Where Found

Winged sumac is found throughout the eastern United States. While sumacs generally prefer fertile, upland sites they also tolerate a wide variety of conditions. All are tolerant of slightly acid soil conditions and textures ranging from coarse to fine. Typical growing sites include open fields and roadsides, fence rows, railroad rights-of-way, and burned areas. Sumacs are not highly shade tolerate and are considered early successional species.

Growth Habit

woody bush or tree

Thorns or Spines

not present

Approximate Flower Diameter


Dominant Flower Color


Flower Symmetry

radial symmetery

Leaf Hairs

has hairs
no hairs

Leaf Shape


Leaf Arrangement


Leaf Margin


Leaf Structure


Leaf Stalk

longer than leaf

Stem Hairs

has hairs

Stem Cross Section

round or oval

Milky Sap

not present

Life Cycle



not present

Plant Type