poison sumac
Toxicodendron vernix
  • LEAVES: alternate, pinnately compound; deciduous; 8 to 13 inches; 7 to 13 elliptic to ovate leaflets; rachis pale to bright red
  • FLOWER: inconspicuous greenish, in long drooping clusters; early summer
  • FRUIT: white drupe, 1/2 inch diameter; on open, drooping panicle
  • TWIGS: stout, smooth, reddish; lack lenticels
  • BARK: gray to brown; smooth with fissures; prominent lenticels; sap turns black when exposed to air
  • FORM: shrub or small tree; 25 ft, 2 inch diameter
  • HABITAT: wet sites along streams
  • WETLAND DESIGNATION: Obligate Wetland (OBL): Almost always occurs in wetlands of the Atlantic and Gulf Coast Plain Region
  • RANGE: eastern US
  • USES: dermatitis; keeps neighbors at bay; birds and small mammals eat seed
  • Best Recognition Features:
    1. alternate, pinnately compound, red rachis
    2. open fruit cluster
    3. black sap on trunk
    4. smooth twigs lacking lenticels

    NOTES: causes severe skin inflammation; smoke from burning plants is poisonous, also; avoid trees and shrubs with pinnately compound, alternate leaves, in wet areas