Scientific NameRhus glabra
Synonyms (former Scientific Names):
Rhus glabra var. cismontana
Rhus glabra var. laciniata
Rhus glabra var. occidentalis
It has alternate, compound leaves, 16-24 inches long. The leaflets are narrowed or rounded at the base and sharply pointed at the tip with finely toothed edges. The leaflets are dark green and smooth above, and pale beneath, except along the midrib.
Smooth sumac is a U.S. native, deciduous, large shrub to small tree, seldom over 10-15 feet tall. 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 75,000 seeds per pound
Flower Seed Head
Compact clusters of greenish-yellow flowers bloom from June to July, and fruits mature from August to September.
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
Smooth sumac is widely distributed throughout the United States. It is extremely drought resistant and is commonly found in open fields and roadsides, fence rows, railroad rights-of-way, and burned areas, on sandy or gravelly soil. All sumacs are tolerant of slightly acid soil conditions and textures ranging from coarse to fine. Sumacs are not highly shade tolerate and are considered early successional species.
woody bush or tree
Thorns or Spines
Approximate Flower Diameter
Dominant Flower Color
longer than leaf
Stem Cross Section
round or oval