Scientific Name: Rhus glabra

Common Name: smooth sumac

Synonyms: Rhus calophylla, Rhus glabra var. cismontana, Rhus glabra var. laciniata, Rhus glabra var. occidentalis

Habit: shrub/small tree

Leaves: 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.

  • Life cycle: perennial

  • Milky sap: Not Present

  • Plant type: Tree

  • Thorns: Not Present

  • Plant family: Anacardiaceae

  • Leaf arrangement: alternate

  • Leaf shape: lance; oval

  • Ochrea: Not Present

  • Leaf margin: entire

  • Stem hairs: no hairs

  • Flower color: green

  • Growth habit: woody bush or tree

  • Stem: round or oval

  • Leaf structure: pinnate

  • Leaf hairs: no hairs

  • Flower symmetry: radial symetery

  • Flower diameter: pencil

  • Leaf stalk: longer than leaf