smooth sumac
Rhus glabra L.
  • LEAVES: deciduous, alternate, once odd-pinnately compound, 12-24” long with 11-31 leaflets; leaflets dark green and somewhat lustrous above, pale below, margins serrate; rachis smooth, light lavender-reddish, not winged
  • FLOWER: functionally unisexual, plants dioecious; flowers 1/4” broad with 5 greenish-yellow petals, arranged in a terminal pyramid shaped panicle 8-12” long
  • FRUIT: small red drupe to 0.15” broad, fruiting panicle erect at maturity (fruiting panicles of Rhus copallinum droop)
  • TWIGS: thick, glabrous, glaucous when young, leaf scars horseshoe-shaped; sap milky
  • BARK: brown, smooth, bearing numerous horizontally elongate lenticels
  • FORM: sparingly branched shrub to small tree to ca. 20’ tall
  • HABITAT: woods edges, open woodlands, old fields, fence rows
  • WETLAND DESIGNATION: this species does not occur in wetlands anywhere in its range
  • RANGE: mainly eastern U.S., scattered in the west, just extending into parts of Canada [USGS Range Map]
  • USES: ornamental; mature fruits taste like sour lemon and can be steeped to make a lemonade-like beverage
  • WILDLIFE: fruits provide winter sustenance for various birds; moderate whitetail deer browse
  • Best Recognition Features:
    1. sparingly branched shrub or small tree, bark brown and smooth with horizontally elongate lenticels
    2. thick glabrous (glaucous when young) twigs with horseshoe shaped leaf scars
    3. leaves once-pinnate, long, leaflets serrate; rachis NOT winged
    4. erect fruiting panicle with many small red dupes