Staghorn Sumac (Rhus typhina)

Common names:
Give a thumbs up Staghorn Sumac
Give a thumbs up Velvet Sumac
Give a thumbs up Stag's Horn Sumach

Botanical names:
Rhus typhina Accepted
Rhus typhina var. laciniata Synonym
Rhus hirta Synonym
Rhus americana Synonym

General Plant Information (Edit)
Plant Habit: Shrub
Tree
Life cycle: Perennial
Sun Requirements: Full Sun
Full Sun to Partial Shade
Water Preferences: Mesic
Dry Mesic
Dry
Soil pH Preferences: Slightly acid (6.1 – 6.5)
Neutral (6.6 – 7.3)
Minimum cold hardiness: Zone 3 -40 °C (-40 °F) to -37.2 °C (-35)
Maximum recommended zone: Zone 8b
Plant Height: 15 to 20 feet, to 50 feet is rarely possible in wild
Leaves: Good fall color
Deciduous
Fruit: Showy
Edible to birds
Fruiting Time: Late summer or early fall
Fall
Late fall or early winter
Winter
Flowers: Inconspicuous
Flower Color: Yellow
Flower Time: Late spring or early summer
Underground structures: Rhizome
Suitable Locations: Beach Front
Xeriscapic
Uses: Windbreak or Hedge
Dye production
Will Naturalize
Wildlife Attractant: Bees
Birds
Other Beneficial Insects
Resistances: Deer Resistant
Rabbit Resistant
Drought tolerant
Salt tolerant
Toxicity: Leaves are poisonous
Roots are poisonous
Propagation: Seeds: Self fertile
Pollinators: Bees
Containers: Not suitable for containers
Miscellaneous: Tolerates poor soil
Dioecious
Conservation status: Least Concern (LC)

Conservation status:
Conservation status: Least Concern
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The ATP Top 50 Trees and ShrubsThe ATP Top 50 Trees and Shrubs
July 5, 2014

Let's open Trees and Shrubs week with a list of the most popular of these woody plants in our database. There are a lot of great plants in this list!

(Full article23 comments)
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Comments:
Posted by betsyhowe on Dec 31, 2013 6:43 PM

As kids in Tennessee we used to pick the ripe berry clusters of the sumac and make tea which was very sour but with lots of sweetener tasted terrific. Is this something considered dangerous? It was supposed to have very high levels of vitaminC and nobody ever got sick. The tea was a lovely pink color like pink lemonade. The berry clusters were kept in paper bags and didn't spoil but did tend to fall apart as they dried, We had sumac tea all winter for colds and loved it. Anyone else familar with sumac tea?

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Posted by ILPARW (southeast Pennsylvania - Zone 6b) on Jan 5, 2018 12:15 PM

Staghorn Sumac is a common species in upland locations, especially liking hills and slopes, as along railroad tracks in the wild from Nova Scotia and southeast Canada, New England, all New York & Pennsylvania down the Appalachians to north Georgia, all Ohio, Michigan, & Wisconsin, northern Indiana & Illinois, and eastern Minnesota. It is one of those woody plants that is in between a large shrub and a small tree, usually about 15 to 20 feet high, especially in landscapes, though a few in happy wild locations have been known to get over 50 feet high that I have never seen. It is fast growing of about 3 feet/year when young. Old wood grows slowly and shoots can come up 7 feet/year from the shallow, widespreading root system that ground suckers to form a colony. The colony will eventually stop spreading, especially in landscape situations. It has very stout, dark velvety hairy twigs. The compound leaves are 1 to 2 feet long with 11 to 31 sharply toothed leaflets that turn a fantastic red or orange color in autumn. The female plants bear the large, terminal, velvety spikes of red berries that are loved by many birds and small mammals and which are mature from July through winter. It is grown by some large, diverse nurseries and many native plant nurseries. Very few average homeowners plant it, but landscape designers and architects sometimes love to use it in professional landscapes and in public sites.

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Posted by threegardeners (Brockville, Ontario, Canada - Zone 5a) on Sep 30, 2011 3:51 PM

I make a "tea" with the "fruits" of this Sumac.

Pour boiling water over the red berry clusters. Let sit for 10 minutes then strain (the boiling water kills any bugs/worms).

You can also put the berry clusters in a pitcher, fill with cold water and steep for a few hours like you'd make ice tea.

Very fruity tasting, kind of like a mild cranberry lemonade.
Chock full of vitamin C.

If your Sumac has white berries DO NOT TRY THIS!!

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Posted by Skiekitty (Denver Metro - Zone 5a) on Jan 23, 2012 9:11 PM

Very xeric, easy growing "tree" shrub plant. Can get kinda tall, but very spindly. However, will sucker like MAD!!!! They are sexually dimorphic. Only female trees produce the berries.

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Posted by JuneOntario (Rosemont, Ont. - Zone 4a) on Dec 31, 2013 9:51 PM

After touching the leaves and branches of this plant with my bare hands, I had a bad allergic reaction (I had red, painfully itchy skin from my scalp to my feet, my ears and tongue swelled up, I felt nauseated and passed out, and I had a severely upset stomach for several days). Wear gloves when pruning branches, pulling suckers, or collecting-up the leaves of this plant!

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Posted by mellielong (Lutz, Florida - Zone 9b) on Apr 23, 2015 11:35 AM

The book "How to Know the Wildflowers" (1922) by Mrs. William Starr Dana says this is a common sumac which "illuminates our hills-sides every autumn with masses of flame-like color." She notes that this species has crimson fruit plumes whereas the poison sumac has white fruits. She supposes most people assume the common name of Staghorn Sumac refers to the shape of the pryamidal fruit clusters. However, the author believes the name is based upon the forked branches that appear after the leaves fall off.

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