Smooth Sumac, Rhus glabra

Smooth Sumac

Rhus glabra

Benefits: Pollinator Benefit Graphic
Sun Shade: Plant Light Requirements Graphic
Bloom Time: Late Spring/Early Summer
Hardiness Zones: 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9
Soil Conditions: Clay, Loam, Sand
Soil Moisture: Dry, Medium
Color: Yellow
Fragrance: No
Height: 8-15 feet
Spacing: 5-10 feet

Smooth Sumac (Rhus glabra) is a deciduous shrub which occurs on prairies, fields, abandoned farmland, clearings and along roads and railroads. A large, open, irregular, spreading shrub which typically grows 8-15 feet tall and spreads by root suckers to form thickets or large colonies in the wild. Large, compound pinnate, shiny, dark green leaves (each with 9-27 leaflets) grow to 18 inches long with a fern-like appearance and turn attractive shades of bright orange to red in autumn. Tiny, yellowish-green flowers bloom in terminal panicles (5-10 inches long) in late spring to early summer, with separate male and female flowers appearing on separate plants (dioecious). Female plants produce showy, erect, pyramidal fruiting clusters (to 8 inches long). Each cluster contains numerous hairy, berry-like drupes which ripen red in autumn, gradually turning maroon-brown as they persist through most of the winter.

Grow in average, dry to medium moisture, well-drained soil in full sun to part shade. Tolerant of wide range of soils except those that are poorly drained.

Habitats include prairies, edges of prairies, edges of hill prairies, open woodlands with a history of disturbance, savannas, thickets, woodland borders, limestone glades, fence rows, areas along railroads, roadside embankments, and waste places. Smooth Sumac is one of the shrubby invaders of prairies; it is a pioneer species that thrives on disturbance. Because of its extensive root system, it is able to recover from occasional wildfires or mowing.

 Plant Notes and Herbal Uses
  Best when massed for stabilizing embankments or for hard-to-cover areas with poorer soils.
  Tends to spread aggressively.
  Attractive shrub during the autumn because of its hairy red fruits and bright red foliage.
  Fruit is attractive to wildlife.
 Further Information

 Wisconsin Fruit Trees
 Wisconsin Edible Berry Shrubs
 Widsconsin Edible Plants-Eat On The Wild Side
 8 Dandelion Recipes
 Wisconsin Native Plant Nurseries

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