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Sumac - Smooth


SUMAC, Smooth  Also called Western Sumac, Rocky Mountain Sumac, Red Sumac.


Botanical name synonyms include Rhus borealis, Rhus calophylla, Rhus glabra var. cismontana, Rhus glabra var. laciniata, Rhus glabra var. occidentalis.

Deciduous   Sun to part shade   Height 10′   Spread 10′   Spacing 4′–8′


  Smooth Sumac: "glabra" in Latin means "smooth" or "bald." Photo (left) by Western Carolina
  Botanical Club; right photo by Janice Lynn.


HABIT: Thick stems with foliage at ends, spreads by suckers out from the mother plant. Excellent orange to red fall color. Vertical flowers and fruit which matures by fall and remains on bare stems through the winter.


CULTURE: Unbelievably durable and widely adaptable. Can be transplanted easily—even bare root. Can take more water than the other sumacs. Likes most dry soil types.


USES: Background, mass, natural areas, fall color. Beneficial to honey bees.


  Smooth Sumac flower photo by Longhmiller; fall color by Sally and Andy Wasowski; both from 
  Lady Bird Johnson Center files.


PROBLEMS: Spreads.


NOTES: Rhus glabra is the only tree/shrub considered native to all 48 contiguous states in the US.

'Lancinata' is a cut-leaf cultivar that is almost fern-like. Has the reputation of being poisonous – but it isn't.

From the Lady Bird Johnson Center Plant Database: Rhus glabra: Colonies are often single-sexed, formed from a single, suckering parent. Only female plants produce flowers and berries.


  Smooth sumac photo by listener Heidi Young.


For more information, also visit North Carolina State University Extension Gardener





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