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Weed Identification

smooth sumac



Scientific Name

Rhus glabra

Synonyms (former Scientific Names):

Rhus calophylla
Rhus glabra var. laciniata
Rhus glabra var. occidentalis
Rhus glabra var. cismontana


shrub/small tree


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.

Identifying Characteristics

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.

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

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.

Growth Habit

woody bush or tree

Thorns or Spines

not present

Approximate Flower Diameter


Dominant Flower Color


Flower Symmetry

radial symmetery

Leaf Hairs

no hairs

Leaf Shape


Leaf Arrangement


Leaf Margin


Leaf Structure


Leaf Stalk

longer than leaf

Stem Hairs

no hairs

Stem Cross Section

round or oval

Milky Sap

not present

Life Cycle



not present

Plant Type