Smooth Sumac

Rhus glabra

Smooth Sumac: Full Tree - Click for larger image

Leaves
Twigs & Fruiting Structures
Bark
Distribution and Uses

Leaves

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Smooth Sumac: Leaves - Click for larger image
Smooth Sumac: Fruit - Click for larger image

Twigs & Fruiting Structures

  • Hairless, reddish twigs and hairless leafstalks; sturdy twigs, when cut in summer, produce milky sap that turns black after exposure

  • Moderately hairy, small buds without scales enclosed by deep U-shaped leaf scars

  • Upright, clustered white flowers with 5 petals

  • Dark red, rounded, 1-seeded, dark red fruit, covered in sticky red hairs; grouped in upright clusters; stay attached in winter

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Bark

  • Dark brown, thin, smooth or becoming scaly; wood is yellow

Distribution & Uses

  • Prefers dry soils and open areas such as forest edges, clearings, grasslands, and roadsides

  • Distribution includes most of eastern and parts of western and southwestern United States and parts of Ontario, Saskatchewan, and British Columbia; only species native to 48 contiguous states

  • Planted for ornamentation; Indians used crushed fruit to make lemonade-type drink; bark and leaves used for tannin

  • Fruit provides food for much wildlife including songbirds, deer, grouse, skunks, and pheasants

Photo by Lara Gordon

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Smooth Sumac: Bark - Click for larger image