Unlike the other North American Toxicodendron species (the four species of Poison-ivy and Poison-oak), Poison-sumac is unlikely to be encountered by most people since it typically lives in shady swamps and bogs. It is a shrub that may grow to 5 m with leaves composed of 7 to 13 smooth-margined leaflets. It can be found across much of the eastern United States and adjacent Canada. Poison-sumac and its close relatives are well-known for possessing skin-irritating oil (urushiol), which can cause severe allergic reactions in humans.
Poison-sumac is one of just five North American Toxicodendron species now generally recognized: Common Poison-ivy (T. radicans), Western Poison-ivy (T. rydbergii), Eastern Poison-oak (T. pubescens), Western Poison-oak (T. diversilobum), and Poison-sumac (T. vernix) (Gleason and Cronquist 1991; Senchina 2006)
Senchina (2008) reviewed the literature on animal and fungal associates of Toxicodendron in North America.
- Gleason, H.A. and A. Cronquist. 1991. Manual of Vascular Plants of Northeastern United States and Adjacent Canada, 2nd ed. The New York Botanical Garden, Bronx, NY.
- Senchina, D.S. 2006. Ethnobotany of poison ivy, poison oak, and relatives (Toxicodendron spp., Anacardiaceae) in America: Veracity of historical accounts. Rhodora 108(935): 203-227.
- Senchina, D.S. 2008. Perspectives in Plant Ecology. Fungal and animal associates of Toxicodendron spp. (Anacardiaceae) in North America. Evolution and Systematics 10: 197-216.