Description and Biology
- Plant: deciduous tree that can reach 70 ft. in height; twigs with smooth, pale gray bark, and twigs that are light chestnut brown, especially in the dormant season; dioecious meaning plants are either male or female; wood soft, weak, coarse-grained and creamy white to light brown in color; leaves, stems and some flowers have a strong, unpleasant to offensive odor likened to cat urine or rotting peanuts or cashews.
- Leaves: alternate, large (1-4 ft. long), compound, with 11-25 smaller leaflets, each with one to several glandular teeth near the base.
- Flowers, fruits and seeds: large showy clusters of small yellowish-green flowers produced during June; in summer, flat, twisted, single-seeded winged fruits or samaras are produced on female trees and may remain on trees for long periods of time; individual trees may produce an estimated 325,000 seeds per year.
- Spreads: reproduces by seed and by vigorous re-sprouting, especially in response to injury such as breakage or cutting.
- Look-alikes: compound-leaved shrubs and trees like staghorn sumac (Rhus typhina), ash (Fraxinus sp.), black walnut (Juglans nigra), and hickory (Carya sp.). Sumac has fuzzy, reddish-brown stems and leaves; ash species have opposite leaves; ash, black walnut, hickory and sumac leaf margins are completely to mostly toothed; black walnuts have large green fruits.
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