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Staghorn Sumac Rhus typhina

Previously known as:

  • Rhus hirta
Phonetic Spelling
RHOOS ty-FEE-nah
Description

Staghorn sumac is a native deciduous shrub or tree in the Anacardiaceae (cashew) family.  This plant form thickets in the wild via self-seeding and root suckering. It is native to woodland edges, roadsides, railroad embankments and stream or swamp margins from Quebec to Ontario to Minnesota south to Georgia, Indiana, and Iowa.  It naturally occurs in the western part of North Carolina.   It is particularly noted for the reddish-brown hairs that cover the young branchlets in somewhat the same way that velvet covers the horns of a stag (male deer), hence the common name.

Rejuvinate leggy plants by cutting it to the ground every few years.  It is not poisonous though it can be weedy spreading by suckers to form colonies.

Growing up to 25' feet tall and about as wide it has a spreading habit.  Medium green compound leaves turn attractive shades of scarlet, yellow, and orange, in the fall.   Showy white blooms appear in the spring and summer and are followed by equally showy red berries making this a tree with year-round intrest.

Easily grown in a wide range of soils as long as they are well-drained, and full sun to part shade. Tolerant of a wide range of soils except for those that are poorly drained. Generally tolerant of urban conditions and drought.

This plant is a larval host plant, attracts pollinators and the deep red berries are a welcome fall and winter food source for songbirds making this tree an excellent addition to a wildlife or woodland garden.  Because of its suckering roots its is a candidate for erosion control.

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems: May spread aggressively through root suckers. 

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Dissecta'
  • 'Laciniata'
  • 'Lancinata'
  • 'Tiger Eyes'
'Dissecta', 'Laciniata', 'Lancinata', 'Tiger Eyes'
Tags:
#showy flowers#deciduous#drought tolerant#wildlife plant#native tree#moths#nectar plant#native shrub#winter interest#fall interest#rabbit resistant#erosion control#year-round interest#showy fruits#food source wildlife#fast growing#NC native#wild turkeys#nighttime garden#quail#red fruits#edible fruits#disturbed areas#Braham Arboretum#larval host plant#hairy stems#urban conditions tolerant#bird friendly#butterfly friendly#moth larvae#bee friendly#roadside#woodland garden#spring azure butterfly#luna moth#fruits winter
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Dissecta'
  • 'Laciniata'
  • 'Lancinata'
  • 'Tiger Eyes'
'Dissecta', 'Laciniata', 'Lancinata', 'Tiger Eyes'
Tags:
#showy flowers#deciduous#drought tolerant#wildlife plant#native tree#moths#nectar plant#native shrub#winter interest#fall interest#rabbit resistant#erosion control#year-round interest#showy fruits#food source wildlife#fast growing#NC native#wild turkeys#nighttime garden#quail#red fruits#edible fruits#disturbed areas#Braham Arboretum#larval host plant#hairy stems#urban conditions tolerant#bird friendly#butterfly friendly#moth larvae#bee friendly#roadside#woodland garden#spring azure butterfly#luna moth#fruits winter
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Rhus
    Species:
    typhina
    Family:
    Anacardiaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Woody
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Stem Cutting
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Eastern North America
    Wildlife Value:
    Ring-necked pheasant, bobwhite quail, and wild turkey eat the fruit. Flowers provide a nectar source to native bees. Larval host plant of Luna moth and the Spring Azure Butterfly.
    Particularly Resistant To (Insects/Diseases/Other Problems):
    Drought
    Edibility:
    The fruits are soaked in water to make a tart lemony drink from the absorbic acid found in the hairs covering the fruits.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 8 ft. 0 in. - 25 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 8 ft. 0 in. - 25 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Edible
    Native Plant
    Shrub
    Tree
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Open
    Spreading
    Growth Rate:
    Rapid
    Maintenance:
    Medium
    Texture:
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Soil Texture:
    Shallow Rocky
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Available Space To Plant:
    12-24 feet
    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:
    Showy
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Summer
    Winter
    Fruit Type:
    Drupe
    Fruit Description:
    Good winter interest; each cluster contains hairy, berry-like drupes that ripen bright red and turn dark red thorough winter. Fruits appear only on female plants.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Green
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Insignificant
    Panicle
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Summer
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    4 to 8 in. panicles of tiny 1/4" greenish white flowers with 5 yellow to green petals in late spring early summer. Male and female flowers on separate trees.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Deciduous Leaf Fall Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Orange
    Red/Burgundy
    Leaf Type:
    Compound (Pinnately , Bipinnately, Palmately)
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Lanceolate
    Leaf Margin:
    Serrate
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    3-6 inches
    Leaf Description:
    Alternate pinnately compound 16"-24" leaves with 11-31 lanceolate leaflets (2-5" long); serrate margins. Great fall color.
  • Bark:
    Bark Color:
    Light Brown
    Light Gray
    Bark Description:
    Fuzzy turning gray-brown and smooth with lenticels and becoming scaly.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Red/Burgundy
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Lenticels:
    Conspicuous
    Stem Surface:
    Hairy (pubescent)
    Stem Description:
    Noted for the reddish-brown hairs that cover the young branchlets
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Naturalized Area
    Woodland
    Landscape Theme:
    Edible Garden
    Native Garden
    Nighttime Garden
    Pollinator Garden
    Winter Garden
    Design Feature:
    Hedge
    Screen/Privacy
    Attracts:
    Butterflies
    Moths
    Pollinators
    Songbirds
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Drought
    Erosion
    Rabbits
    Urban Conditions
    Problems:
    Weedy