Wasn’t Poison Sumac After All

“It turns out the “poison sumac” (Rhus vernix) of my childhood, which I so diligently avoided, wasn’t poison sumac after all, although R. vernix does grow in Indiana.”

This is from my reply to a comment from Steve at Portraits of Wildflowers. Steve reports Rhus trilobata grows in Texas, but Rhus lanceolata is more reliable for bright reds in the fall.

Steve got me going on a Rhus hunt from his comment on making sumac-ade.  See my reply on my original post about Rhus and how it adds color to the autumn landscape.

I wanted to post some identifying photos to show a few of the sumac plants we discussed. I went to the USDA-ARCS Plants Database to make sure my images were accurate. Unfortunately there was no photo for the Prairie flame sumac Steve mentioned… maybe he’ll be able to add one.

Rhus trilobata, Skunkbush sumac, Squawbush sumac
Rhus trilobata, three lobed leaves
Rhus vernix, Poison sumac, Toxicodendron vernix
Poison Sumac has large alternate leaves with 9-13 entire leaflets
Rhus typhina, Staghorn sumac
Staghorn sumac has 11 to 27 leaflets with serrate margins

Photo Credits:

Rhus trilobata- USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database / Herman, D.E., et al. 1996. North Dakota tree handbook. USDA NRCS ND State Soil Conservation Committee; NDSU Extension and Western Area Power Administration, Bismarck.

Rhus vernix – Ted Bodner @ USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database / James H. Miller and Karl V. Miller. 2005. Forest plants of the southeast and their wildlife uses. University of Georgia Press., Athens

Rhus typhina – USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database / Herman, D.E., et al. 1996. North Dakota tree handbook. USDA NRCS ND State Soil Conservation Committee; NDSU Extension and Western Area Power Administration, Bismarck.

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