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Rhus glabra

Common Name(s):

Phonetic Spelling
RHOOS GLAY-brah
Description

Smooth Sumac is a native deciduous shrub appearing in every state and parts of Canada growing 9-15 feet tall and wide. It is found in most regions of NC. It is extremely drought tolerant and is often found in disturbed areas, open woodlands, prairies, on dry rocky hillsides, and in canyons. Smooth Sumac tends to spread by suckers and forms dense colonies but is an important winter wildlife food source. Shrubs are separate male and female so both are needed for fruiting.

In summer large panicles of tiny flowers appear and are followed by clusters of red drupes in summer to fall that persist into winter. The large compound leaves have an excellent orange to red fall color. It is adaptable to most soil types except wet ones and tolerates sun to partial shade.

In general, it is too weedy to use in the average landscape so it is best utilized in naturalized areas or on slopes to help control erosion. It could be used as a hedge in an area where it is allowed to spread. It can be rejuvenated by cutting to the ground.  This plant is moderately resistant to damage from deer. 

Insects, Diseases, or Other Plant Problems: No serious insect or disease problems. It has some susceptibility to leaf spot, rust, scale, aphids and mites. Tends to spread aggressively.

 

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Laciniata'
'Laciniata'
Tags:
#deciduous#fall color#drought tolerant#wildlife plant#showy#moths#weedy#winter interest#slopes#playground#small mammals#low flammability#nighttime garden#children's garden#native garden#fire resistant#edible fruits#agressive#pollinator plant#naturalized area#larval host plant#food source summer#food source fall#food source herbage#food source nectar#food source pollen#food source soft-mast fruit#bird friendly#butterfly friendly#nectar plant early summer#nectar plant mid-summer#moth larvae#pollinator garden#audubon#red-banded hairstreak butterfly
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Laciniata'
'Laciniata'
Tags:
#deciduous#fall color#drought tolerant#wildlife plant#showy#moths#weedy#winter interest#slopes#playground#small mammals#low flammability#nighttime garden#children's garden#native garden#fire resistant#edible fruits#agressive#pollinator plant#naturalized area#larval host plant#food source summer#food source fall#food source herbage#food source nectar#food source pollen#food source soft-mast fruit#bird friendly#butterfly friendly#nectar plant early summer#nectar plant mid-summer#moth larvae#pollinator garden#audubon#red-banded hairstreak butterfly
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Rhus
    Species:
    glabra
    Family:
    Anacardiaceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    The leaves of this plant are a source of black ink. Pigment can also be obtained from the wood of this plant and if used in the textile, toy, and paper industry.
    Life Cycle:
    Woody
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Root Cutting
    Seed
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    U.S.A. to Canada
    Distribution:
    All states in the USA and parts of Canada
    Fire Risk Rating:
    low flammability
    Wildlife Value:
    This plant provides nectar for pollinators. It is a larval host plant for Red-Banded Hairstreak (Calycopis cecrops) which has two broods a year from April-October. Butterflies nectar at the flowers. Its fruits are eaten by songbirds, white-tailed deer, opossums, wild turkeys and quail.
    Play Value:
    Attracts Pollinators
    Edible fruit
    Wildlife Food Source
    Wildlife Larval Host
    Particularly Resistant To (Insects/Diseases/Other Problems):
    fire in the landscape. Heat and drought tolerant.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 9 ft. 0 in. - 15 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 9 ft. 0 in. - 15 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Native Plant
    Shrub
    Tree
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Multi-stemmed
    Spreading
    Growth Rate:
    Medium
    Maintenance:
    High
    Texture:
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Shallow Rocky
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Occasionally Dry
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    3a, 3b, 4a, 4b, 5b, 5a, 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b, 9b, 9a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Red/Burgundy
    Fruit Value To Gardener:
    Edible
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Summer
    Fruit Type:
    Drupe
    Fruit Length:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Width:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    1/4 inch red fruit covered in red sticky hairs in clusters from Aug. to October on female plants
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Green
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Panicle
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Summer
    Flower Shape:
    Star
    Flower Petals:
    4-5 petals/rays
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    5-10 inch long panicles of yellowish-green flowers bloom in May to July, with separate male and female flowers appearing on separate plants (dioecious). Individual flowers are 1/4 inch and five-petaled.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Feel:
    Glossy
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Deciduous Leaf Fall Color:
    Orange
    Red/Burgundy
    Leaf Type:
    Compound (Pinnately , Bipinnately, Palmately)
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Lanceolate
    Oblanceolate
    Leaf Margin:
    Serrate
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    3-6 inches
    Leaf Width:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Description:
    Alternate, compound leaves are 16-24 inches long with 11-31 sessile leaflets that are lanceolate to oblong-lanceolate and up to 4 inches long and 1 inch wide. Narrowed or rounded at the base and sharply pointed at the tip with sharply toothed edges. Dark green and smooth above and pale beneath with a waxy coating. Red to orange fall color is excellent.
  • Bark:
    Bark Color:
    Dark Brown
    Dark Gray
    Red/Burgundy
    Surface/Attachment:
    Fissured
    Bark Description:
    Older shrub's bark is brownish-gray, horizontally fissured, and slightly warty. Bark of major branches is brownish-gray to reddish-brown and more smooth.
  • Stem:
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Surface:
    Covered with a powdery bloom (glaucous)
    Stem Description:
    The stems and branches are hairless and covered with a whitish waxy coating.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Naturalized Area
    Slope/Bank
    Landscape Theme:
    Butterfly Garden
    Native Garden
    Nighttime Garden
    Pollinator Garden
    Design Feature:
    Hedge
    Attracts:
    Bees
    Butterflies
    Moths
    Pollinators
    Small Mammals
    Songbirds
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Black Walnut
    Drought
    Dry Soil
    Erosion
    Fire
    Rabbits
    Problems:
    Weedy