Rhus glabra (Smooth Sumac)


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Plant Description: A multi-stemmed deciduous shrub with a spreading open crown, forming thickets from root suckers. Gray brown mature bark is smooth and twigs are sometimes covered with light brown hairs. The large leaves are pinnately compound comprised of 7-29 elongated leaflets with sharply toothed margins and pointed tips. Uppersides are dark green, undersides pale covered with a whitish waxy coating. A branched, terminal inflorescence is a cone shaped, upright dense cluster of small greenish to yellow flowers that mature from the bottom up.

The fruit of this plant are small red berries covered in fine, sticky hairs occurring in upright pyramidal clusters that persist long after the leaves turn brilliant red and fall. Smooth sumac has edible berries and poisonous leaves - though the leaves cannot be eaten, they have antimicrobial properties and were used in traditional medicine by Indigenous communities. Fruit can be eaten raw, cooked, or made into a drink. *CONSULT A PROFESSIONAL FOR MEDICAL USE. NEVER CONSUME PLANTS WITHOUT PROPER ID*

  • Height: 6-18ft
  • Width: 10-20ft
  • Watering needs: moderate
  • Sun needs: full to part sun
  • Soil needs: moist to semi-dry
  • Bloom Time: July-August
  • Ripening Time: Fall

Landscape Use and Ecological Function: This native plant is found in disturbed areas, open woodlands, meadows, dry rocky hillsides, and near roadsides throughout the United States. We recommend growing Rhus glabra in woodland gardens and meadowscapes. Its primary function is to attract pollinators and it provides food and cover for many birds as well. Drought tolerant. Rhus glabra is a vigorous grower and should only be planted where it is desired to spread. 

*Photo by SevenOaks Nursery*

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