The Q&A Archives: Are Sumac Berries Poisonous?

Question: Are the berries from Sumac poisonous to the touch? I thought about cutting them to add to a fall wreath.

Answer: There are many different sumac species, but my references don't show the berries as poisonous for such sumac as Rhus typhina (staghorn sumac) or R. glabra (smooth sumac). Their red colorful fruits are decorative, birds eat them, and one type is even used to flavor beverages R. integrifolia or Lemonade Berry. I wonder if you are thinking of poison ivy and poison oak, which are also in the Rhus family. Stay away from those, but their berries aren't very attractive anyway. If you are concerned, you can buy thin plastic gloves (like health-care workers use) at many large home improvement, hardware, or medical supply stores. Good luck with your wreath!

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