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Overview

Comprehensive Description

Description

This native woody shrub is 2-10' tall, branching occasionally. Sometimes it develops into a small tree up to 20' tall, but this is uncommon. The compound leaves are oddly pinnate, consisting of 9-27 leaflets; they alternate along the woody stems. The leaf stalks are hairless and have a whitish bloom. Each leaflet is up to 4" long and 1½" across, lanceolate, and hairless, while the margins are serrated. The upper surface of a leaflet is green, while the the lower surface is white with exposed veins. During the fall, the leaflets become brilliant red. The upper branches produce one or more erect panicles of flowers up to 1½' long and and ½' across. Each flower is about ¼" across, consisting of a yellowish or whitish green corolla that is divided into 5 spreading lobes, and subtended by a star-like green calyx with 5 pointed tips. There are both male and female flowers. The blooming period occurs during early to mid-summer. The flowers are replaced by round drupes during the late summer, which persist through the fall and winter. These drupes are individually about 1/6" long, and covered with short acrid hairs; they are brilliant dark red, gradually turning black during the winter. A single stony seed occurs inside each drupe; it is kidney-shaped and has a smooth surface. The root system consists of a taproot and spreading rhizomes; this shrub often forms vegetative colonies.
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Comments

Smooth Sumac is quite attractive during the fall. It is easily distinguished from other sumacs by its absence of hairs, lack of winged leaf stalks, or greater number of leaflets. A sapling of Ailanthus altissima (Tree-of-Heaven) somewhat resembles Smooth Sumac, but the former has leaflets with green undersides and less serration. Return
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Description

General: Sumac Family (Anacardiaceae). Smooth sumac can be a shrub or small tree growing up to 3 meters in height. Smooth sumac forms thickets from root suckers. The stems and branches are hairless and covered with a whitish waxy coating. The leaves are alternate and pinnately compound (3-5 dm long). Smooth sumac has 11-31 leaflets that are lanceolate to oblong-lanceolate (7-9 cm long). The leaflets taper to a point at the tip and are rounded at the base. The margins are sharply serrated. The upper surface is dark green and lustrous. The lower surface is covered with a whitish waxy coating. Smooth sumac has a branched, racemose inflorescence with flowers maturing from the bottom up (10-25 cm long). The flowers have a greenish color. The drupes have a flattened-globe shape (3.5-4.5 mm long) and are covered with red, sticky hairs. The seeds are yellowish in color and smooth (3-3.5 mm long).

Distribution: For current distribution, please consult the Plant Profile page for this species on the PLANTS Web site.

Habitat: Smooth sumac is found in open woodlands, prairies, on dry rocky hillsides, and in canyons.

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Source: USDA NRCS PLANTS Database

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Alternative names

Scarlet sumac

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Source: USDA NRCS PLANTS Database

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Distribution

National Distribution

Canada

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

United States

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

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Range and Habitat in Illinois

Smooth Sumac occurs in every county of Illinois; it is a common plant (see Distribution Map). Habitats include edges of moist to dry black soil prairies; upland forests with a history of disturbance; thickets and woodland borders; limestone glades; fence rows and abandoned fields; areas along roadsides and railroads; and miscellaneous waste places. This is one of the shrubby invaders of prairies; it is a pioneer species. This shrubby species can recover from infrequent fires or mowing, and resists herbicides.
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Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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Regional Distribution in the Western United States

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This species can be found in the following regions of the western United States (according to the Bureau of Land Management classification of Physiographic Regions of the western United States):



1 Northern Pacific Border

2 Cascade Mountains

3 Southern Pacific Border

4 Sierra Mountains

5 Columbia Plateau

6 Upper Basin and Range

7 Lower Basin and Range

8 Northern Rocky Mountains

9 Middle Rocky Mountains

10 Wyoming Basin

11 Southern Rocky Mountains

12 Colorado Plateau

13 Rocky Mountain Piedmont

14 Great Plains

15 Black Hills Uplift

16 Upper Missouri Basin and Broken Lands

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Occurrence in North America




AL AZ AR CO CT DE FL GA ID IL
IN IA KS KY LA ME MD MA MI MN
MS MO MT NE NV NH NJ NM NY NC
ND OH OK OR PA RI SC SD TN TX
UT VT VA WA WV WI WY

 

AB BC MB ON PQ SK

 

MEXICO


 

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Smooth sumac is distributed widely throughout most of the contiguous U.S. and into Mexico [58]. It does not occur in California [42,93]. In Canada it extends from Lake Huron to central British Columbia [46,57,76].

  • 42. Hickman, James C., ed. 1993. The Jepson manual: Higher plants of California. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. 1400 p. [21992]
  • 46. Hosie, R. C. 1969. Native trees of Canada. 7th ed. Ottawa, ON: Canadian Forestry Service, Department of Fisheries and Forestry. 380 p. [3375]
  • 57. Lackschewitz, Klaus. 1991. Vascular plants of west-central Montana--identification guidebook. Gen. Tech. Rep. INT-227. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station. 648 p. [13798]
  • 58. Little, Elbert L., Jr. 1979. Checklist of United States trees (native and naturalized). Agric. Handb. 541. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. 375 p. [2952]
  • 76. Soper, James H.; Heimburger, Margaret L. 1982. Shrubs of Ontario. Life Sciences Misc. Publ. Toronto, ON: Royal Ontario Museum. 495 p. [12907]
  • 93. Wetherwax, Margriet. 2000. [E-mail to Janet L. Howard]. January 28. 1 p. On file at: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory, Missoula, MT; RWU 4403 files. [31310]

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Adaptation

Smooth sumac vigorously resprouts from rhizomes following fire. The rhizomes are usually located between 3 and 12 inches below the soil surface and this may provide protection from heat during a fire.

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USDA NRCS National Plant Data Center

Source: USDA NRCS PLANTS Database

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Localities documented in Tropicos sources

Rhus borealis Greene:
China (Asia)
United States (North America)

Note: This information is based on publications available through Tropicos and may not represent the entire distribution. Tropicos does not categorize distributions as native or non-native.
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© Missouri Botanical Garden, 4344 Shaw Boulevard, St. Louis, MO 63110 USA

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Localities documented in Tropicos sources

Rhus glabra L.:
Canada (North America)
United States (North America)

Note: This information is based on publications available through Tropicos and may not represent the entire distribution. Tropicos does not categorize distributions as native or non-native.
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Physical Description

Morphology

Description

More info for the terms: cover, rhizome, shrub, tree


Smooth sumac is a native, perennial, deciduous, thicket-forming shrub or small tree that grows from 2 to 20 feet (0.5 to 6 m) [78]. Branches tend to be fairly sparse, smooth, and stout [36]. The flowers are borne in long (up to 18 inches (45 cm)), dense, compound, terminal panicles [44]. The fruit is a small drupe containing a single small seed [10]. Smooth sumac has a high tannin content [40].

Smooth sumac thickets are often connected by branched rhizomes [89]. The main roots grow to depths of 7 to 8 feet (2.1-2.4 m) and give rise to many smaller roots. The dense network of main roots, relatively shallow laterals, and rhizomes promotes increased utilization of soil moisture and rapid vegetative spread. Rhizomes reach to a depth of 3 to 12 inches (7.6-30.5 cm) [19,90].

In a detailed study of 13 clones of smooth sumac in Michigan and Ohio, Gilbert [34] drew several major conclusions, including the following: Stems range from 1.3 to 9.8 feet (0.4-3m) in height and 1 to 15 years in age, with the tallest stems being the oldest. Fifty-six percent of observed floral buds did not develop completely to the flowering or fruiting stage. One clump was shown to be a vegetative development of a single individual. A single clone may cover as much as an area 72 × 131 feet (22 × 40 m). Average annual spread of a clone is 37.6 inches (94 cm), and a stem may arise from a rhizome several years old.

  • 10. Barkley, Fred Alexander. 1937. A monographic study of Rhus and its immediate allies in North and Central America, including the West Indies. Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden. 24(3): 265-498. [392]
  • 34. Gilbert, Elizabeth F. 1966. Structure and development of sumac clones. The American Midland Naturalist. 75(2): 432-445. [22424]
  • 36. Great Plains Flora Association. 1986. Flora of the Great Plains. Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas. 1392 p. [1603]
  • 40. Hayes, Doris W.; Garrison, George A. 1960. Key to important woody plants of eastern Oregon and Washington. Agric. Handb. 148. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. 227 p. [1109]
  • 44. Hitchcock, C. Leo; Cronquist, Arthur. 1961. Vascular plants of the Pacific Northwest. Part 3: Saxifragaceae to Ericaceae. Seattle, WA: University of Washington Press. 614 p. [1167]
  • 78. Stanton, Frank. 1974. Wildlife guidelines for range fire rehabilitation. Tech. Note 6712. Denver, CO: U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management. 90 p. [2221]
  • 89. Weaver, J. E.; Fitzpatrick, T. J. 1934. The prairie. Ecological Monographs. 4(2): 111-295. [2464]
  • 90. Weaver, J. E.; Kramer, Joseph. 1932. Root system of Quercus macrocarpa in relation to the invasion of prairie. Botanical Gazette. 94: 51-85. [274]
  • 19. Canadell, J.; Jackson, R. B.; Ehleringer, J. R.; [and others]. 1996. Maximum rooting depth of vegetation types at the global scale. Oecologia. 108(4): 583-595. [27670]

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Type Information

Isotype for Rhus calophylla Greene
Catalog Number: US 497406
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Botany
Verification Degree: Original publication and alleged type specimen examined
Preparation: Pressed specimen
Collector(s): J. C. Blumer
Year Collected: 1906
Locality: Huachuca Mts., Arizona, United States, North America
  • Isotype: Greene, E. L. 1908. Repert. Spec. Nov. Regni Veg. 5: 45.
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Source: National Museum of Natural History Collections

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Syntype for Rhus glabra var. occidentalis Torr. in Wilkes
Catalog Number: US 19819
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Botany
Preparation: Pressed specimen
Collector(s): Wilkes Explor. Exped.
Year Collected: 1838
Locality: Near Fort Okanagan., Washington, United States, North America
  • Syntype: Wilkes, C. 1874. U.S. Explor. Exped. 17: 257.
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Holotype for Rhus cismontana Greene
Catalog Number: US 210241
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Botany
Verification Degree: Original publication and alleged type specimen examined
Preparation: Pressed specimen
Collector(s): P. A. Rydberg
Year Collected: 1893
Locality: Near Plummer Ford, Dismal River., Thomas, Nebraska, United States, North America
  • Holotype: Greene, E. L. 1906. Proc. Wash. Acad. Sci. 8: 189.
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Ecology

Habitat

Key Plant Community Associations

More info for the terms: climax, graminoid



Smooth sumac is a climax indicator in a number of shrub-grassland
communities. In eastern Washington climax mountain grasslands once
dominated by smooth sumac and perennial grasses have been
overgrazed and are now smooth sumac/cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum)
communities [22]. Smooth sumac grows well in
both the mountain brush and pinyon-juniper (Pinus-Juniperus spp.) zones [36].

Dominant associates in Appalachian pine-hardwood forests are pitch pine (P. rigida), scarlet oak (Quercus coccinia), chestnut oak (Q. prinus), and mountain-laurel (Kalmia latifolia) [28,29].

Common plant associates in Kansas bluestem prairies are [75]:

Grasses

big bluestem (Andropogon gerardii)

little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium)

Indiangrass (Sorghastrum nutans)

sideoats grass (Bouteloua curtipendula)

blue grama (B. gracilis)

hairy grama (B. hirsuta)

buffalograss (Buchloe dactyloides)

Kentucky bluegrass (Poa pratensis)

Woody Plants

buckbrush (Symphoricarpos orbiculatus)

American elm (Ulmus americana)

eastern redcedar (Juniperus virginiana)

bur oak (Q. macrocarpa)

chinkapin oak (Q. muehlenbergii)

roughleaf dogwood (Cornus drummondii)

Characteristic woody and graminoid species associated with smooth sumac in black oak (Q. velutina) savanna in Indiana include [8]:

white oak (Q. alba)

black cherry (Prunus serotina)

sassafras (Sassafras albidum)

flameleaf sumac (Rhus copallina)

little bluestem

yellow sedge (Carex pensylvanica)

prairie junegrass (Koelaria macrantha)

Indiangrass

Plant classifications naming smooth sumac
as a dominant species are:

Steppe vegetation of Washington [22]

Natural vegetation of Oregon and Washington [32]

Canyon grasslands and associated shrublands of west-central Idaho and
adjacent areas [84]

  • 22. Daubenmire, R. 1970. Steppe vegetation of Washington. Technical Bulletin 62. Pullman, WA: Washington State University, College of Agriculture, Washington Agricultural Experiment Station. 131 p. [733]
  • 8. Bacone, John A.; Post, Thomas W. 1986. Effects of prescribed burning on woody & herbaceous vegetation in black oak sand savannas at Hoosier Prairie Nature Preserve, Lake Co., Indiana. In: Koonce, Andrea L., ed. Prescribed burning in the Midwest: state-of-the-art: Proceedings of a symposium; 1986 March 3-6; Stevens Point, WI. Stevens Point, WI: University of Wisconsin, College of Natural Resources, Fire Science Center: 86-90. [16273]
  • 28. Elliot, Katherine J.; Vose, James M. 1993. Site preparation burning to improve southern Appalachian pine-hardwood stands: photosynthesis, water relations, and growth of planted Pinus strobus during establishment. Canadian Journal of Forest Research. 23(10): 2278-2285. [22743]
  • 29. Elliott, Katherine J.; Clinton, Barton D. 1993. Equations for estimating biomass of herbaceous and woody vegetation in early-successional Southern Appalachian pine-hardwood forests. Res. Note SE-365. Asheville, NC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Southeastern Forest Experiment Station. 7 p. [22273]
  • 32. Franklin, Jerry F.; Dyrness, C. T. 1973. Natural vegetation of Oregon and Washington. Gen. Tech. Rep. PNW-8. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Forest and Range Experiment Station. 417 p. [961]
  • 36. Great Plains Flora Association. 1986. Flora of the Great Plains. Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas. 1392 p. [1603]
  • 75. Smith, E. F.; Owensby, C. E. 1973. Effects of fire on true prairie grasslands. In: Proceedings, annual Tall Timbers Fire Ecology Conference; 1972 June 8-9; Lubbock, TX. No. 12. Tallahassee, FL: Tall Timbers Research Station: 9-22. [2168]
  • 84. Tisdale, E. W. 1986. Canyon grasslands and associated shrublands of West-central Idaho and adjacent areas. Bulletin Number 40. Moscow, ID: University of Idaho, Forest, Wildlife and Range Experiment Station, College of Forestry, Wildlife and Range Sciences. 42 p. [2338]

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Habitat: Rangeland Cover Types

More info on this topic.

This species is known to occur in association with the following Rangeland Cover Types (as classified by the Society for Range Management, SRM):

More info for the term: hardwood



109 Ponderosa pine shrubland

421 Chokecherry-serviceberry-rose

602 Bluestem-prairie sandreed

603 Prairie sandreed-needlegrass

606 Wheatgrass-bluestem-needlegrass

710 Bluestem prairie

720 Sand bluestem-little bluestem (dunes)

721 Sand bluestem-little bluestem (plains)

722 Sand sagebrush-mixed prairie

731 Cross timbers-Oklahoma

801 Savanna

802 Missouri prairie

804 Tall fescue

809 Mixed hardwood and pine

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Habitat: Plant Associations

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This species is known to occur in association with the following plant community types (as classified by Küchler 1964):





K011 Western ponderosa forest

K012 Douglas-fir forest

K014 Grand fir-Douglas-fir forest

K016 Eastern ponderosa forest

K017 Black Hills pine forest

K018 Pine-Douglas-fir forest

K019 Arizona pine forest

K020 Spruce-fir-Douglas-fir forest

K021 Southwestern spruce-fir forest

K022 Great Basin pine forest

K023 Juniper-pinyon woodland

K024 Juniper steppe woodland

K037 Mountain-mahogany-oak scrub

K038 Great Basin sagebrush

K055 Sagebrush steppe

K056 Wheatgrass-needlegrass shrubsteppe

K057 Galleta-threeawn shrubsteppe

K063 Foothills prairie

K064 Grama-needlegrass-wheatgrass

K065 Grama-buffalo grass

K066 Wheatgrass-needlegrass

K067 Wheatgrass-bluestem-needlegrass

K068 Wheatgrass-grama-buffalo grass

K069 Bluestem-grama prairie

K070 Sandsage-bluestem prairie

K074 Bluestem prairie

K075 Nebraska Sandhills prairie

K081 Oak savanna

K084 Cross Timbers

K086 Juniper-oak savanna

K095 Great Lakes pine forest

K097 Southeastern spruce-fir forest

K098 Northern floodplain forest

K100 Oak-hickory

K103 Mixed mesophytic forest

K104 Appalachian oak forest

K106 Northern hardwoods

K107 Northern hardwoods-fir forest

K108 Northern hardwoods-spruce forest

K110 Northeastern oak-pine forest

K111 Oak-hickory-pine

K112 Southern mixed forest

K115 Sand pine scrub

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Habitat: Ecosystem

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This species is known to occur in the following ecosystem types (as named by the U.S. Forest Service in their Forest and Range Ecosystem [FRES] Type classification):



FRES10 White-red-jack pine

FRES11 Spruce-fir

FRES12 Longleaf-slash pine

FRES13 Loblolly-shortleaf pine

FRES14 Oak-pine

FRES15 Oak-hickory

FRES17 Elm-ash-cottonwood

FRES18 Maple-beech-birch

FRES19 Aspen-birch

FRES20 Douglas-fir

FRES21 Ponderosa pine

FRES22 Western white pine

FRES23 Fir-spruce

FRES26 Lodgepole pine

FRES28 Western hardwoods

FRES29 Sagebrush

FRES30 Desert shrub

FRES33 Southwestern shrubsteppe

FRES34 Chaparral-mountain shrub

FRES35 Pinyon-juniper

FRES36 Mountain grasslands

FRES38 Plains grasslands

FRES39 Prairie

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Habitat characteristics

Smooth sumac grows in a wide range of habitats including open woodlands, prairies, dry rocky hillsides, canyons, and protected ravines [36,40,90]. It often forms dense thickets in prairies [89]. It is common in ecotonal areas and is often found along roadsides, in dry waste areas, and in old fields [36]. Smooth sumac grows well on shallow to moderately deep, dry to moist, coarse or variably textured soils. It grows best on slightly acidic to neutral soils (pH 6.5-7.0) with sunny exposures [78].

Smooth sumac occurs as high as 2290 meters in Utah [91].

  • 91. Welsh, Stanley L.; Atwood, N. Duane; Goodrich, Sherel; Higgins, Larry C., eds. 1987. A Utah flora. The Great Basin Naturalist Memoir No. 9. Provo, UT: Brigham Young University. 894 p. [2944]
  • 36. Great Plains Flora Association. 1986. Flora of the Great Plains. Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas. 1392 p. [1603]
  • 40. Hayes, Doris W.; Garrison, George A. 1960. Key to important woody plants of eastern Oregon and Washington. Agric. Handb. 148. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. 227 p. [1109]
  • 78. Stanton, Frank. 1974. Wildlife guidelines for range fire rehabilitation. Tech. Note 6712. Denver, CO: U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management. 90 p. [2221]
  • 89. Weaver, J. E.; Fitzpatrick, T. J. 1934. The prairie. Ecological Monographs. 4(2): 111-295. [2464]
  • 90. Weaver, J. E.; Kramer, Joseph. 1932. Root system of Quercus macrocarpa in relation to the invasion of prairie. Botanical Gazette. 94: 51-85. [274]

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Range and Habitat in Illinois

Smooth Sumac occurs in every county of Illinois; it is a common plant (see Distribution Map). Habitats include edges of moist to dry black soil prairies; upland forests with a history of disturbance; thickets and woodland borders; limestone glades; fence rows and abandoned fields; areas along roadsides and railroads; and miscellaneous waste places. This is one of the shrubby invaders of prairies; it is a pioneer species. This shrubby species can recover from infrequent fires or mowing, and resists herbicides.
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Habitat: Cover Types

More info on this topic.

This species is known to occur in association with the following cover types (as classified by the Society of American Foresters):



14 Northern pin oak

17 Pin cherry

40 Post oak-blackjack oak

42 Bur oak

43 Bear oak

45 Pitch pine

52 White oak-black oak-northern red oak

53 White oak

210 Interior Douglas-fir

220 Rocky Mountain juniper

236 Bur oak

237 Interior ponderosa pine

238 Western juniper

239 Pinyon-juniper

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Comments: Upland soil, old fields, roadsides, and margins of woods (Gleason). Also with R. trilobata on rocky ridges, ravines, and in thickets on the Great Plains (Aldous 1934).

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Dispersal

Establishment

Propagation of smooth sumac can occur by use of seeds or root cuttings. Seeds germinate best when exposed to continuous light and alternating warm and cool temperatures. Smooth sumac grows best in poor, well-drained soils, with partial to full sun. However, smooth sumac is a hardy species and will tolerate many soil types including soil that is slightly saline.

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Associations

Flower-Visiting Insects of Smooth Sumac in Illinois

Rhus glabra (Smooth Sumac)
(On staminate flowers, bees suck nectar or collect pollen; other insects suck nectar primarily; on pistillate flowers, all insects suck nectar; on flowers of unspecified gender, insect activity is mostly unspecified; some observations are from Krombein et al., Graenicher, and MacRae as indicated below, otherwise they are from Robertson)

On staminate flowers:

Bees (long-tongued)
Apidae (Bombini): Bombus griseocallis sn cp; Anthophoridae (Ceratinini): Ceratina dupla dupla sn cp; Megachilidae (Coelioxini): Coelioxys sayi sn; Megachilidae (Stelidini): Stelis lateralis sn; Megachilidae (Trypetini): Heriades leavitti sn cp fq

Bees (short-tongued)
Halictidae (Halictinae): Agapostemon sericea sn cp, Agapostemon virescens sn cp, Augochlorella striata sn cp, Halictus rubicunda sn cp fq, Lasioglossum cinctipes sn cp fq, Lasioglossum fuscipennis sn cp, Lasioglossum imitatus sn cp fq, Lasioglossum pilosus pilosus sn cp, Lasioglossum pruinosus sn cp, Lasioglossum versatus sn cp fq, Lasioglossum zephyrus sn cp fq; Halictidae (Sphecodini): Sphecodes dichroa sn; Colletidae (Colletinae): Colletes aestivalis sn, Colletes eulophi sn fq, Colletes nudus sn; Colletidae (Hylaeinae): Hylaeus affinis sn cp, Hylaeus illinoisensis sn; Andrenidae (Andreninae): Andrena cressonii sn cp, Andrena nigrifrons sn cp, Andrena nuda sn, Andrena robertsonii sn cp fq

Wasps
Sphecidae (Bembicinae): Bicyrtes ventralis sn; Sphecidae (Crabroninae): Lestica confluentus sn, Oxybelus emarginatus sn; Sphecidae (Philanthinae): Cerceris compar sn, Cerceris fumipennis sn, Cerceris insolita sn, Cerceris rufopicta sn fq, Philanthus gibbosus sn; Sphecidae (Sphecinae): Ammophila kennedyi sn; Vespidae (Eumeninae): Ancistrocerus campestris sn, Euodynerus annulatus sn, Monobia quadridens sn, Zethus spinipes sn

Flies
Stratiomyidae: Stratiomys meigenii sn, Stratiomys normula sn; Syrphidae: Allograpta obliqua sn, Ceriana abbreviata sn, Eristalis dimidiatus sn, Eristalis flavipes sn, Eristalis tenax sn, Eristalis transversus sn, Eupeodes americanus sn, Mallota bautias sn, Mallota posticata sn, Ocyptamus fuscipennis sn, Orthonevra nitida sn, Sphaerophoria contiqua sn, Sphegina rufiventris sn, Syrphus ribesii sn, Toxomerus geminatus sn, Toxomerus marginatus sn fq; Empididae: Empis clausa sn fq; Bombyliidae: Bombylius atriceps sn, Hemipenthes sinuosa fp, Villa alternata sn; Conopidae: Physocephala tibialis sn, Physoconops brachyrhynchus sn, Zodion americanum sn, Zodion fulvifrons sn; Tachinidae: Cylindromyia euchenor sn, Lixophaga variabilis sn, Siphona geniculata sn; Calliphoridae: Lucilia illustris sn; Muscidae: Limnophora narona sn, Morellia micans sn

Butterflies
Nymphalidae: Megisto cymela sn; Lycaenidae: Celastrina argiolus sn, Satyrium calanus sn

On pistillate flowers:

Bees (long-tongued)
Apidae (Apinae): Apis mellifera sn fq; Apidae (Bombini): Bombus auricomus sn; Anthophoridae (Ceratinini): Ceratina calcarata sn, Ceratina dupla dupla sn

Bees (short-tongued)
Halictidae (Halictinae): Agapostemon sericea sn, Agapostemon virescens sn, Augochlorella aurata sn, Halictus confusus sn, Halictus parallelus sn, Halictus rubicunda sn fq, Lasioglossum imitatus sn fq, Lasioglossum pilosus pilosus sn, Lasioglossum pruinosus sn, Lasioglossum tegularis sn, Lasioglossum versatus sn fq, Lasioglossum zephyrus sn fq; Colletidae (Colletinae): Colletes eulophi sn fq, Colletes willistoni sn fq; Colletidae (Hylaeninae): Hylaeus mesillae sn; Andrenidae (Andreninae): Andrena crataegi sn, Andrena robertsonii sn fq

Wasps
Sphecidae (Crabroninae): Oxybelus emarginatus sn, Oxybelus mexicanus sn; Sphecidae (Pemphredoninae): Mimesa cressonii sn; Sphecidae (Philanthinae): Cerceris compacta sn fq, Cerceris rufopicta sn fq; Sphecidae (Sphecinae): Ammophila kennedyi sn, Ammophila procera sn, Isodontia apicalis sn, Prionyx thomae sn; Pompilidae: Anoplius marginatus sn; Vespidae: Polistes fuscata sn; Vespidae (Eumeninae): Stenodynerus anormis sn fq; Braconidae: Vipio robertsonii sn (Ashmead, MS)

Flies
Syrphidae: Allograpta obliqua sn, Eristalis arbustorum sn, Syritta pipiens sn, Toxomerus marginatus sn fq; Conopidae: Physocephala tibialis sn; Tachinidae: Acroglossum hesperidarum sn, Archytas analis sn fq, Archytas aterrima sn, Belvosia bifasciata sn, Cylindromyia euchenor sn, Deopalpus hirsutus sn, Tachinomyia panaetius sn; Sarcophagidae: Amobia floridensis sn, Blaesoxipha hunteri sn, Helicobia rapax sn, Ravinia anxia sn, Ravinia derelicta sn, Sarcophaga sinuata sn; Muscidae: Neomyia cornicina sn, Stomoxys calcitrans sn; Anthomyiidae: Delia platura sn; Fanniidae: Fannia manicata sn

Beetles
Mordellidae: Mordella melaena sn

Flower Gender Unspecified:

Bees (long-tongued)
Megachilidae (Trypetini): Heriades carinatum (Kr)

Bees (short-tongued)
Colletidae (Colletinae): Colletes aestivalis (Kr), Colletes nudus (Kr), Colletes producta (Kr), Colletes willistoni (Kr); Andrenidae (Andreninae): Andrena hippotes (Kr), Andrena ilicis (Kr), Andrena nigrifrons (Kr), Andrena spiraeana (Kr); Andrenidae (Panurginae): Calliopsis andreniformis sn (Kr)

Flies
Bombyliidae: Villa alternata sn (Gr)

Beetles
Buprestidae: Anthaxia flavimana (McR)

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Faunal Associations

The flowers attract short-tongued bees, wasps, and flies, primarily. Among the flies, are such visitors as soldier flies, Syrphid flies, dance flies, bee flies, thick-headed flies, Tachinid flies, Anthomyiid flies, and others. Occasionally, long-tongued bees, small butterflies, and beetles may visit the flowers. These insects seek nectar primarily; bees also collect pollen. The caterpillars of the butterfly Celastrina argiolus (Spring/Summer Azure) feed on the foliage, while the caterpillars of the butterfly Calycopis cecrops (Red-Banded Hairstreak) feed primarily on fallen foliage. Several species of moths also feed on Smooth Sumac (see Moth Table). Both upland gamebirds and songbirds eat the fruit (see Bird Table), which may persist through the winter. Some mammalian herbivores browse on Smooth Sumac, including the Cottontail Rabbit (bark, fruit) and White-Tailed Deer (twigs, foliage).
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Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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In Great Britain and/or Ireland:
Foodplant / saprobe
scattered, 0.25-0.5mm diam, bullate, long covered by bark, then bursting by slit which widens to roundish stroma of Cytospora coelomycetous anamorph of Cytospora rhoina is saprobic on dead branch of Rhus glabra
Remarks: season: 5-8

Foodplant / feeds on
pycnidium of Diplodia coelomycetous anamorph of Diplodia rhois feeds on Rhus glabra

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General Ecology

Fire Management Considerations

More info for the terms: cover, fuel, prescribed fire

Management practices to reduce smooth sumac cover through repeated prescribed fires alone appear limited. However, evidence suggests that the height or structure of smooth sumac stands can be altered. Repeated annual fires during the late spring may effectively reduce smooth sumac height [75].

Hutchison [49] reports that to reduce smooth sumac in Illinois prairies, stand-replacing prescribed fire in August may be sufficient to kill mature stems, but must be followed by sprout removal. He indicates that dormant-season fires do not control sumac, and spring fires may increase sprouting.

Reeves and Lenhart [68] provide fuel weight prediction equations for smooth sumac and 18 other east Texas woody species. Elliot and Clinton [29] developed equations for predicting total aboveground, foliage, and stem biomass for herbs, smooth sumac, and other woody vegetation in prescribe burned and other early-successional, disturbed sites in southern Appalachian oak-pine (Pinus-Quercus spp.) forest. Equations for smooth sumac are as follows:

Model r2 p n Sy.x
total = 1.5130 + 0.62920 D2H 0.974 0.0001 7 1.587
foliage = 1.2388 + 0.44405 D2H 0.974 0.0001 7 1.126
stem = 0.27415 + 0.18516 D2H 0.964 0.0001 7 0.548

Sy.x = standard error
H = height
D = diameter measured at about 1.0 cm from ground level

  • 29. Elliott, Katherine J.; Clinton, Barton D. 1993. Equations for estimating biomass of herbaceous and woody vegetation in early-successional Southern Appalachian pine-hardwood forests. Res. Note SE-365. Asheville, NC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Southeastern Forest Experiment Station. 7 p. [22273]
  • 49. Hutchison, Max. 1992. Vegetation management guideline: smooth sumac (Rhus glabra L.). Natural Areas Journal. 12(3): 158. [19439]
  • 75. Smith, E. F.; Owensby, C. E. 1973. Effects of fire on true prairie grasslands. In: Proceedings, annual Tall Timbers Fire Ecology Conference; 1972 June 8-9; Lubbock, TX. No. 12. Tallahassee, FL: Tall Timbers Research Station: 9-22. [2168]
  • 68. Reeves, Hershel C.; Lenhart, J. David. 1988. Fuel weight prediction equations for understory woody plants in eastern Texas. Texas Journal of Science. 40(1): 49-53. [3682]

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Broad-scale Impacts of Plant Response to Fire

More info for the terms: cover, density, fen, fire frequency, fire management, frequency, peatland, prescribed fire, shrub, shrubs



Smooth sumac was among 50 understory species examined for changes in relation to spring burn periodicity in a Minnesota oak savanna dominated by northern pin oak (Quercus ellipsoidalis) and bur oak. The table below shows average smooth sumac stem frequency per circular plot, each plot with a radius of 18.5 feet (5.6 m). The author did not draw specific conclusions for smooth sumac, but the numbers suggest persistence of the species despite burn treatments [94].
Plot Fire # of Mean stem
treatment burns frequency/plot

1a 2 yrs burn/2 yrs no burn 7 0
1 4 yrs burn/2 yrs no burn 10 0
3 Annual burns 14 2
4 Annual burns 16 13
5 3 yrs burn/3 yrs no burn 9 6
6 2 yrs burn/1 yr no burn 10 13
8 2 yrs burn/2 yrs no burn 7 8
Control unburned 0 3

Anderson and others [5] reported an increase in smooth sumac during the
first 10 years after an early spring fire in the Flint Hills of Kansas. Kruse and Higgins [54] found an increase in smooth sumac following spring burning in northern mixed grass prairies.
Increases are also reported following spring fires in South Dakota [96,],
Kansas [27,75], Indiana [8,80], Connecticut [62] and Minnesota [11]. Adams and others [4] report an increase in canopy cover following both March and July fires on separate tallgrass prairie sites in Oklahoma. It is noteworthy that in the same study other woody plants, including 2 Rhus species, were eliminated by the fires.

Repeated annual fires during the late spring may reduce the average
height of smooth sumac plants. On Kansas pastures, plants were reduced
in height after 20 years of annual late spring fires, with most
shrubs growing to only 12 to 18 inches (30.5-45.7 cm) in height.
Although smooth sumac was stunted by these fires, its density increased [75]. Abrams [2] reported a decrease in smooth sumac canopy cover after 2 consecutive April burns in the understory of a mature oak woodland.

In a study on the effects of an April 1984 fire on smooth sumac in the Kansas tallgrass prairie, Knapp [52] found reductions in height and production of woody, leaf, and reproductive tissue in August 1984. The burned and unburned sites had been free of fire for at least 5 years prior to fire treatment, so the 2 populations were considered similar. Smooth sumac aboveground biomass and fruit production was greater in unburned populations in the August following burning. However, a significant (P less than 0.05) postfire increase in shoot density resulted in similar leaf area indices in burned and control plots in August 1984.

In a 20-year study of the effects of fire frequency on Minnesota oak savanna herbs and shrubs, Tester [82,83] determined that increased fire frequency tended to increase the density of true prairie shrubs and decrease the density of non-prairie shrubs, though in the case of smooth sumac, cover estimates were not positively correlated with burn frequency.

Bowles and others [14] report a decrease in smooth sumac cover attributed to an 11-year fire management program in a peatland prairie fen in Illinois. A total of 8 dormant-season burns (4 in spring and 4 in fall) were conducted supplemented by shrub cutting.

A winter burn in South Carolina was reported to increase smooth sumac vigor the following spring [25].

The following Research Project Summaries provide information on prescribed fire and postfire response of plant community species, including smooth sumac, that was not available when this species review was written:

  • 4. Adams, Dwight E.; Anderson, Roger C.; Collins, Scott L. 1982. Differential response of woody and herbaceous species to summer and winter burning in an Oklahoma grassland. The Southwestern Naturalist. 27: 55-61. [6282]
  • 2. Abrams, Marc D. 1988. Effects of prescribed fire on woody vegetation in a gallery forest understory in northeastern Kansas. Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science. 91(3-4): 63-70. [10796]
  • 5. Anderson, Kling L.; Smith, Ed F.; Owensby, Clenton E. 1970. Burning bluestem range. Journal of Range Management. 23: 81-92. [323]
  • 8. Bacone, John A.; Post, Thomas W. 1986. Effects of prescribed burning on woody & herbaceous vegetation in black oak sand savannas at Hoosier Prairie Nature Preserve, Lake Co., Indiana. In: Koonce, Andrea L., ed. Prescribed burning in the Midwest: state-of-the-art: Proceedings of a symposium; 1986 March 3-6; Stevens Point, WI. Stevens Point, WI: University of Wisconsin, College of Natural Resources, Fire Science Center: 86-90. [16273]
  • 11. Becker, Donald A. 1989. Five years of annual prairie burns. In: Bragg, Thomas A.; Stubbendieck, James, eds. Prairie pioneers: ecology, history and culture: Proceedings, 11th North American prairie conference; 1988 August 7-11; Lincoln, NE. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska: 163-168. [14037]
  • 27. Dubis, Douglas; Strait, Rebecca A.; Jackson, Marion T.; Whitaker, John O., Jr. 1988. Floristics and effects of burning on vegetation and small mammal populations at Little Bluestem Prairie Nature Preserve. Natural Areas Journal. 8(4): 267-276. [6775]
  • 52. Knapp, Alan K. 1986. Postfire water relations, production, and biomass allocation in the shrub, Rhus glabra, in tallgrass prairie. Botanical Gazette. 147(1): 90-97. [6215]
  • 54. Kruse, Arnold D.; Higgins, Kenneth F. 1990. Effects of prescribed fire upon wildlife habitat in northern mixed-grass prairie. In: Alexander, M. E.; Bisgrove, G. F., technical coordinators. The art and science of fire management: Proceedings, 1st Interior West Fire Council annual meeting and workshop; 1988 October 24-27; Kananaskis Village, AB. Inf. Rep. NOR-X-309. Edmonton, AB: Forestry Canada, Northwest Region, Northern Forestry Centre: 182-193. [14146]
  • 62. Niering, William A.; Dreyer, Glenn D. 1989. Effects of prescribed burning on Andropogon scoparius in postagricultural grasslands in Connecticut. The American Midland Naturalist. 122: 88-102. [8768]
  • 75. Smith, E. F.; Owensby, C. E. 1973. Effects of fire on true prairie grasslands. In: Proceedings, annual Tall Timbers Fire Ecology Conference; 1972 June 8-9; Lubbock, TX. No. 12. Tallahassee, FL: Tall Timbers Research Station: 9-22. [2168]
  • 80. Strait, Rebecca A.; Jackson, Marion T. 1986. An ecological analysis of the plant communities of Little Bluestem Prairie Nature Preserve: pre-burning versus post-burning. Proceedings, Indiana Academy of Science. 95: 447-452. [22165]
  • 83. Tester, John R. 1996. Effects of fire frequency on plant species in oak savanna in east-central Minnesota. Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club. 123(4): 304-308. [28035]
  • 94. White, Alan S. 1986. Prescribed burning for oak savanna restoration in central Minnesota. Res. Pap. NC-266. St. Paul, MN: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, North Central Forest Experiment Station. 12 p. [3487]
  • 96. Worcester, Lynda Lou. 1979. Effects of prescribed burning at different fuel moisture levels on vegetation and soils of grasslands in Wind Cave National Park. Brookings, SD: South Dakota State University. 101 p. Thesis. [2602]
  • 14. Bowles, Marlin; McBride, Jeanette; Stoynoff, Johnson, Ken. 1996. Temporal changes in vegetation composition and structure in a fire-managed prairie fen. Natural Areas Journal. 16(4): 275-288. [27220]
  • 25. Devet, David D.; Hopkins, Melvin L. 1968. Response of wildlife habitat to the prescribed burning program on the National Forests in South Carolina. Proceedings, Annual Conference of Southeastern Association of Game and Fish Commissioners. 21: 129-133. [14633]
  • 82. Tester, John R. 1989. Effects of fire frequency on oak savanna in east-central Minnesota. Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club. 116(2): 134-144. [9281]

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Plant Response to Fire

More info for the terms: cover, frequency, shrubs

The response of smooth sumac to fire appears to vary considerably depending on the burn frequency, season, and postburn management techniques. Smooth sumac spreads readily from rhizomes following fire [43,66], but growth may be stunted by frequent fire. Spring fires increase smooth sumac cover. Consecutive late spring fires may be particularly effective in reducing the height of these shrubs, although plants often increase in number after such fires [75].

  • 43. Higgins, Kenneth F.; Kruse, Arnold D.; Piehl, James L. 1989. Effects of fire in the Northern Great Plains. Ext. Circ. EC-761. Brookings, SD: South Dakota State University, Cooperative Extension Service, South Dakota Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit. 47 p. [26105]
  • 66. Plummer, A. Perry; Christensen, Donald R.; Monsen, Stephen B. 1968. Restoring big-game range in Utah. Publ. No. 68-3. Ephraim, UT: Utah Division of Fish and Game. 183 p. [4554]
  • 75. Smith, E. F.; Owensby, C. E. 1973. Effects of fire on true prairie grasslands. In: Proceedings, annual Tall Timbers Fire Ecology Conference; 1972 June 8-9; Lubbock, TX. No. 12. Tallahassee, FL: Tall Timbers Research Station: 9-22. [2168]

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Post-fire Regeneration

More info for the terms: adventitious, ground residual colonizer, root sucker, shrub, tree

Tree with adventitious bud/root crown/soboliferous species root sucker
Tall shrub, adventitious bud/root crown
Ground residual colonizer (on-site, initial community)
Initial offsite colonizer (off-site, initial community)

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Fire Ecology

Smooth sumac sprouts vigorously from underground rhizomes following fire [66,78,97]. Since rhizomes are buried at depths of 3 to 12 inches (7.6-30.5 cm) [89], overlying soil probably protects them from most fires.

Although vegetative reproduction is the primary mode of reestablishment after fire, smooth sumac may also reproduce through seed. Evidence suggests that some species of Rhus seedbank with seed stored in the humus layer. These seeds germinate when fire creates seedbed and open canopy [1,63].

Smooth sumac occurs in ecosystems and plant communities with varying FIRE REGIMES. The range of fire intervals reported for some species that dominate communities where smooth sumac occurs are listed below. To learn more about the FIRE REGIMES in these ecosystems and communities, refer to the FEIS summary for the dominant plant species, under "Fire Ecology Or Adaptations."

Community or Ecosystem Scientific Name of Dominant Species Fire Return Interval Range in Years
1. prairie Andropogon gerardii var. gerardii 1-6 [18]
2. pitch pine Pinus rigida 6-25 [55]
3. oak-hickory Quercus-Carya spp. 50-100 [3]
 

  • 1. Abrams, Marc D. 1988. Effects of burning regime on buried seed banks and canopy coverage in a Kansas tallgrass prairie. The Southwestern Naturalist. 33(1): 65-70. [4415]
  • 3. Abrams, Marc D. 1992. Fire and the development of oak forests. BioScience. 42(5): 346-353. [19215]
  • 18. Buchholz, Kenneth: Good, Ralph E. 1982. Density, age structure, biomass and net annual aboveground productivity of dwarfed Pinus rigida Moll. from the New Jersey Pine Barren Plains. Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club. 109(1): 24-34. [8639]
  • 63. Olmsted, Norwood W.; Curtis, James D. 1947. Seeds of the forest floor. Ecology. 28(1): 49-52. [9904]
  • 66. Plummer, A. Perry; Christensen, Donald R.; Monsen, Stephen B. 1968. Restoring big-game range in Utah. Publ. No. 68-3. Ephraim, UT: Utah Division of Fish and Game. 183 p. [4554]
  • 78. Stanton, Frank. 1974. Wildlife guidelines for range fire rehabilitation. Tech. Note 6712. Denver, CO: U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management. 90 p. [2221]
  • 89. Weaver, J. E.; Fitzpatrick, T. J. 1934. The prairie. Ecological Monographs. 4(2): 111-295. [2464]
  • 97. Wright, Henry A. 1972. Shrub response to fire. In: McKell, Cyrus M.; Blaisdell, James P.; Goodin, Joe R., eds. Wildland shrubs--their biology and utilization: Proceedings of a symposium; 1971 July; Logan, UT. Gen. Tech. Rep. INT-1. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Forest and Range Experiment Station: 204-217. [2611]
  • 55. Kucera, Clair L. 1981. Grasslands and fire. In: Mooney, H. A.; Bonnicksen, T. M.; Christensen, N. L.; [and others], technical coordinators. FIRE REGIMES and ecosystem properties: Proceedings of the conference; 1978 December 11-15; Honolulu, HI. Gen. Tech. Rep. WO-26. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: 90-111. [4389]

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Successional Status

More info on this topic.

More info for the terms: climax, fire suppression, shrub, shrubs, succession

Smooth sumac is a climax indicator in a number of shrub and grassland communities [22,32,84]. Three vegetation associations typified by smooth sumac are found on colluvial or alluvial soils in canyons in the Columbia Basin Province described in Franklin and Dyrness [32]; Their understories are dominated by bluebunch wheatgrass (Pseudoroegneria spicata), sand dropseed (Sporobolus cryptandrus), or red threeawn (Aristida purpurea). Daubenmire [22] identified these 3 hypothetical climaxes, but concluded that grazing effectively reduced them to a smooth sumac/cheatgrass community. The patchy distribution of smooth sumac stands in the Washington steppe and their restriction to sandy soils warrant designating them as one or more edaphic climaxes.

Smooth sumac is a prominent species in prairie and oak savanna communities where fire has been suppressed [38,49,80,83]. It is relatively intolerant of shade [90].

In a 1981 central Oklahoma tallgrass prairie studied for old field succession following different initial plowing treatments beginning in 1949, vegetation development in 4 hypothesized stages from pioneer weeds to mature prairie was heterogeneous and unpredictable. Smooth sumac was present in unplowed plots and also appeared in the other 2 plots that developed to mature prairie following one 1949 plowing and 5 annual plowings from 1949 to 1953. The authors [20,21] characterize the succession to mature prairie as "very rapid," at least in part due to continual fire suppression. They predict that woody shrubs, including smooth sumac and flameleaf sumac (Rhus copallina), Chickasaw plum (Prunus angustifolia), and coralberry (Symphoricarpos orbiculatus) will continue to increase, and the upland forest trees post oak (Quercus stellata) and blackjack oak (Q. marilandica ) may eventually dominate the site. The authors note that in the absence of fire, mature prairie vegetation is not the climax on the coarse textured soils of the region, and that fire is essential to maintenance of tallgrass prairie. Please note, however, that the Fire Effects section of this report discusses a number of prescribed burns, especially in the spring, which increased smooth sumac.

  • 22. Daubenmire, R. 1970. Steppe vegetation of Washington. Technical Bulletin 62. Pullman, WA: Washington State University, College of Agriculture, Washington Agricultural Experiment Station. 131 p. [733]
  • 20. Collins, S. L.; Adams, D. E. 1983. Succession in grasslands: thirty-two years of change in a central Oklahoma tallgrass prairie. Vegetatio. 51: 181-190. [2929]
  • 21. Collins, Scott L. 1990. Patterns of community structure during succession in tallgrass prairie. Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club. 117(4): 397-408. [14139]
  • 32. Franklin, Jerry F.; Dyrness, C. T. 1973. Natural vegetation of Oregon and Washington. Gen. Tech. Rep. PNW-8. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Forest and Range Experiment Station. 417 p. [961]
  • 38. Haney, Alan; Apfelbaum, Steven I. 1990. Structure and dynamics of midwest oak savannas. In: Sweeney, James M., ed. Management of dynamic ecosystems: Proceedings of a symposium; 1989 December 5; Springfield, IL. West Lafayette, IN: North Central Section, The Wildlife Society: 20-30. [21832]
  • 49. Hutchison, Max. 1992. Vegetation management guideline: smooth sumac (Rhus glabra L.). Natural Areas Journal. 12(3): 158. [19439]
  • 80. Strait, Rebecca A.; Jackson, Marion T. 1986. An ecological analysis of the plant communities of Little Bluestem Prairie Nature Preserve: pre-burning versus post-burning. Proceedings, Indiana Academy of Science. 95: 447-452. [22165]
  • 83. Tester, John R. 1996. Effects of fire frequency on plant species in oak savanna in east-central Minnesota. Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club. 123(4): 304-308. [28035]
  • 84. Tisdale, E. W. 1986. Canyon grasslands and associated shrublands of West-central Idaho and adjacent areas. Bulletin Number 40. Moscow, ID: University of Idaho, Forest, Wildlife and Range Experiment Station, College of Forestry, Wildlife and Range Sciences. 42 p. [2338]
  • 90. Weaver, J. E.; Kramer, Joseph. 1932. Root system of Quercus macrocarpa in relation to the invasion of prairie. Botanical Gazette. 94: 51-85. [274]

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Regeneration Processes

Li and others [37] report that the 1.5 months required for flower, fruit and seed development in smooth sumac is much faster than that reported for other members of the Anacardiaceae family. Flowers may develop into conspicuous red fruits after only 6 weeks.

Smooth sumac produces at least some seed nearly every year [16]. The seeds are widely distributed by many species of birds and mammals [26]. There is evidence that seeds persist in the soil seedbank [1,6]. Smooth sumac seed has averaged up to 97% sound, depending on the lot examined [50]. Germination is inhibited by the hard, impervious hull and seedcoat [37,41,50]. Brinkman [16] observed that germination was greatest and most rapid under continuous light. A constant temperature regime of 68 degrees Fahrenheit (20 oC) and alternating warm and cool temperatures both promoted good germination, whereas a constant temperature of 95 degrees Fahrenheit (35 oC) prevented germination.

Smooth sumac also readily reproduces vegetatively. It spreads through rhizomes to form large, dense thickets [16,45]. The rhizomes may produce new shoots as far as 30 feet (1-9 m) from the parent plant [90].

  • 1. Abrams, Marc D. 1988. Effects of burning regime on buried seed banks and canopy coverage in a Kansas tallgrass prairie. The Southwestern Naturalist. 33(1): 65-70. [4415]
  • 26. Dittberner, Phillip L.; Olson, Michael R. 1983. The plant information network (PIN) data base: Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming. FWS/OBS-83/86. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service. 786 p. [806]
  • 41. Heit, C. E. 1967. Propagation from seed. Part 7: Germinating six hardseeded groups. American Nurseryman. 125(12): 10-12; 37-41; 44-45. [1120]
  • 6. Artigas, Francisco J.; Boerner, Ralph E. J. 1989. Advance regeneration and seed banking of woody plants in Ohio pine plantations: implications for landscape change. Landscape Ecology. 2(3): 139-150. [13633]
  • 16. Brinkman, Kenneth A. 1974. Rhus L. sumac. In: Schopmeyer, C. S., technical coordinator. Seeds of woody plants in the United States. Agric. Handb. 450. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: 715-719. [6921]
  • 37. Gutknecht, Kurt W. 1989. Xeriscaping: an alternative to thirsty landscapes. Utah Science. 50(4): 142-146. [10166]
  • 45. Hitchcock, C. Leo; Cronquist, Arthur. 1973. Flora of the Pacific Northwest. Seattle, WA: University of Washington Press. 730 p. [1168]
  • 50. Johnson, A. G.; Foote, L. E.; Smithberg, M. H. 1966. Smooth sumac seed germination. Plant Propagator. 12(3): 5-8. [1271]
  • 90. Weaver, J. E.; Kramer, Joseph. 1932. Root system of Quercus macrocarpa in relation to the invasion of prairie. Botanical Gazette. 94: 51-85. [274]

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Growth Form (according to Raunkiær Life-form classification)

More info on this topic.

More info for the term: phanerophyte

Phanerophyte

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Life Form

More info for the terms: shrub, tree

Tree-shrub

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Immediate Effect of Fire

Sumacs (Rhus spp.) generally tolerate fire [17]. Fires in the Great Plains rarely kill smooth sumac and some authorities state that smooth sumac actually depends on fire for survival [97]. Its propensity for sprouting minimizes fire's damaging effects.

  • 17. Britton, Carlton M.; Wright, Henry A. 1983. Brush management with fire. In: McDaniel, Kirk C., ed. Proceedings--brush management symposium; 1983 February 16; Albuquerque, NM. Denver, CO: Society for Range Management: 61-68. [521]
  • 97. Wright, Henry A. 1972. Shrub response to fire. In: McKell, Cyrus M.; Blaisdell, James P.; Goodin, Joe R., eds. Wildland shrubs--their biology and utilization: Proceedings of a symposium; 1971 July; Logan, UT. Gen. Tech. Rep. INT-1. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Forest and Range Experiment Station: 204-217. [2611]

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Aldous (1934) found that R. glabra is slow at initiating spring growth, and that stem carbohydrate reserves remain high until the plant flowers (June 18 in KS, July 3 in ND). However, carbohydrate reserves are at a maximum in the fall (Aldous 1934).

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Life History and Behavior

Cyclicity

Phenology

More info on this topic.

Smooth sumac renews growth early in the year [89], with flowers developing before the leaves [86]. Flowering dates are as follows [26]:

Location    Beginning of Flowering    End of Flowering

CO          May                       July
MT          July                      July
ND          July                      July
UT          May                       July

Fruit ripens from September to October [16]. Seed often persists through the fall and winter [78].

  • 26. Dittberner, Phillip L.; Olson, Michael R. 1983. The plant information network (PIN) data base: Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming. FWS/OBS-83/86. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service. 786 p. [806]
  • 16. Brinkman, Kenneth A. 1974. Rhus L. sumac. In: Schopmeyer, C. S., technical coordinator. Seeds of woody plants in the United States. Agric. Handb. 450. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: 715-719. [6921]
  • 78. Stanton, Frank. 1974. Wildlife guidelines for range fire rehabilitation. Tech. Note 6712. Denver, CO: U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management. 90 p. [2221]
  • 86. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. 1937. Range plant handbook. Washington, DC. 532 p. [2387]
  • 89. Weaver, J. E.; Fitzpatrick, T. J. 1934. The prairie. Ecological Monographs. 4(2): 111-295. [2464]

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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

Canada

Rounded National Status Rank: N5 - Secure

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: N5 - Secure

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure

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Status

Please consult the PLANTS Web site and your State Department of Natural Resources for this plant’s current status (e.g. threatened or endangered species, state noxious status, and wetland indicator values).

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Threats

Pests and potential problems

If grown in its native habitat and using a local seed stock, the smooth sumac should not be prone to debilitating pests or problems.

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Management

Management considerations

More info for the terms: fire management, shrub, shrubs



In a 1983 review of management practices for controlling smooth sumac, Evans [30] determined that smooth sumac is susceptible to a number of control practices, including cutting 2 or 3 successive years shortly after flowering or cutting 5 times over a period of 3 years. The author also indicates that cutting can be used in combination with herbicides and prescribed burning. As discussed in the Fire Effects section of this report, spring burning alone often causes smooth sumac to proliferate. Evans recommends combining cutting and burning and suggests herbicides where appropriate.

Packard [64] reports that cutting mature stems at flowering helps control smooth sumac, but may be less effective in the case of those which had been previously cut or partially burned at a less sensitive time.

Hutchinson [49] reports that smooth sumac is one of the primary invaders of hill prairies in Illinois, where dense clones eliminate other native species. He suggests however, that it not be eliminated totally from communities, and should be left in ravines and draws. Removal of shrubs by cutting is recommended in July, followed by sprout cutting in August. He also indicates that fire may be a useful control (see Fire Management Considerations section).

The general response of smooth sumac to browsing is unclear. Wambolt
[88] reported that it is a decreaser, whereas other researchers have
classified it as an increaser [5]. Still others report that on many
sites its response is unpredictable [32]. Daubenmire [23] followed the progress of disturbed smooth sumac thickets in a western Washington palouse prairie site and concluded that the thickets are highly dynamic under "heavy" grazing. One large thicket thinned out over 10 years, while another became established and spread in a different place.

Though treatment with herbicides increased both crude protein and dry matter digestibility in several Oklahoma shrub forage species, only dry matter digestibility increased significantly (P less than 0.05) in smooth sumac [77].

  • 23. Daubenmire, Rexford. 1992. Palouse prairie. In: Coupland, R. T., ed. Natural grasslands: Introduction and western hemisphere. Ecosystems of the World 8A. Amsterdam, Netherlands: Elsevier Science Publishers B. V: 297-312. [23830]
  • 5. Anderson, Kling L.; Smith, Ed F.; Owensby, Clenton E. 1970. Burning bluestem range. Journal of Range Management. 23: 81-92. [323]
  • 32. Franklin, Jerry F.; Dyrness, C. T. 1973. Natural vegetation of Oregon and Washington. Gen. Tech. Rep. PNW-8. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Forest and Range Experiment Station. 417 p. [961]
  • 49. Hutchison, Max. 1992. Vegetation management guideline: smooth sumac (Rhus glabra L.). Natural Areas Journal. 12(3): 158. [19439]
  • 77. Soper, Roderick B.; Lochmiller, Robert L.; Leslie, David M., Jr.; Engle, David M. 1993. Nutritional quality of browse after brush management on cross timbers rangeland. Journal of Range Management. 46(5): 399-410. [29365]
  • 30. Evans, James E. 1983. Literature review of management practices for smooth sumac (Rhus glabra), poison ivy (Rhus radicans), and other sumac species. Natural Areas Journal. 3(1): 16-26. [6248]
  • 64. Packard, Stephen. 1987. Control of mature sumac clones (Illinois). Restoration & Management Notes. 5(1): 41. [1810]
  • 88. Wambolt, Carl. 1981. Montana range plants: Common and scientific names. Bulletin 355. Bozeman, MT: Montana State University, Cooperative Extension Service. 27 p. [2450]

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Management Requirements: Although sumacs are native North American taxa, they can present distinct problems in wetlands, prairies, and rangeland. Sumac encroachment in bogs has been encouraged by nitrate and orthophosphate laden runoff from adjacent farmland (Whitney 1981) and is shading out characteristic bog species (Armstrong and Heston 1982). Aldous (1934) discusses the spread of R. glabra in native prairies in KS. Sumac dominance in rangelands has been shown to increase under heavy grazing pressure (Hetzer and McGregor 1951) and under prescribe burning management (Anderson et al. 1970).

R. glabra is susceptible to a number of control practices. Cutting for 2 or 3 succesive years shortly after flowering (late spring-early summer) can help control the spread of sumac since this is the time when carbohydrate reserves are the lowest and the species has a reduced capacity to respond to top-removal (Aldous 1929, Launchbaug and Owensby 1978). Kline (1982) demonstrated that cutting 5 times in a period of 2 yrs reduced sumac density by 2/3 (compared to a control). Cutting can also be used in combination with herbicides or prescribed burns. Waller (1982) suggests cutting to control young (<5 yrs) stems and cutting and treating with glyphosate to control older stems. Aldous (1929) found that R. glabra responds vigorously to spring burns. His results have been confirmed elsewhere for both R. glabra (Hulbert 1978) and R. copallina (Anderson 1982). Anderson (1982) reported that Toxicodendron (=Rhus) radicans did not resprout following a spring burn. Wright (1972) further noted that the effect of fire on shrubs needs to be evaluated in relation to the ecological potential of the community. In healthy or non-grazed grasslands, competition with grasses,drought, and fire may have a cumulative effect that results in preventing shrub dominance. In heavily grazed grasslands, however, the reduced competition between shrubs and grasses may negate any positive effect burning had on shrub control. Because sumac and perennial grass dominants reserve carbohydrates are depleted and stored at the same time, prescribed burns to favor one will also favor the other. However, Martin (1981) suggested that combining spring burning with mid-summer mowing could help control R. glabra. Repeated cutting and burning had an additional advantage of restoring prairie plants under sumac clones, and these served the dual purpose of shading out sumac sprouts and providing a better fuel base for additional burns (Martin 1981).

Herbicides may also be used. The optimal spray period for any plant can be determined by the maximum gradient of sugars from leaves to roots, as this represents the period when the plant is manufacturing and storing food for the next year's growth. R. glabra may be controlled by foliar sprays of Tordon (0.25 to 0.50 lb/A) ortriclopyr (4 to 8 lb/A), in early to mid-summer (Churchill et al. 1976, Fears 1980). Glyphosate, a biodegradable herbicide, has been successfully used to control T. radicans.

See James E. Evans, Natural Areas J. Vol.3 No.1. for complete details.

Management Programs: One of the few remaining sites of the federally endangered Iliamna remota in Indiana is threatened by shading from R. glabra. In June 1982, sumac was cut from two 10 sq. m. areas at this site. It was found that by that time, I. remota plants were 2 to 3 feet tall and difficult to work around without damaging. J. Aldrich (pers. comm., 1983) proposed cutting in March or April, a procedure which will prevent R. glabra from growing much over 3 feet tall and hence prevent shading of I. remota. It also might prevent use of the area by off-road vehicles.

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Control

Please contact your local agricultural extension specialist or county weed specialist to learn what works best in your area and how to use it safely. Always read label and safety instructions for each control method. Trade names and control measures appear in this document only to provide specific information. USDA NRCS does not guarantee or warranty the products and control methods named, and other products may be equally effective.

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Cultivars, improved and selected materials (and area of origin)

These materials are readily available from commercial plant sources. Contact your local Natural Resources Conservation Service (formerly Soil Conservation Service) office for more information. Look in the phone book under ”United States Government.” The Natural Resources Conservation Service will be listed under the subheading “Department of Agriculture.”

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Weediness

This plant may become weedy or invasive in some regions or habitats and may displace desirable vegetation if not properly managed. Please consult with your local NRCS Field Office, Cooperative Extension Service office, or state natural resource or agriculture department regarding its status and use. Weed information is also available from the PLANTS Web site at plants.usda.gov.

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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Economic Uses

Uses: MEDICINE/DRUG

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Other uses and values

More info for the term: presence

Smooth sumac is planted as an ornamental because of its colorful fall foliage [44]. It is recommended in Utah for xeriscaping due to its drought tolerance [37]. It is also planted as a shelterbelt species and on depleted game ranges [16,67] and is recommended for use in "living" snow fences where wildlife habitat improvement is an objective [72].

Laboratory analyses of smooth sumac plant tissue indicate the presence of antifungal and antibacterial compounds [71,59].

Native Americans traditionally made hot and cold beverages [39], dyes, and medicines from smooth sumac fruits. Young sprouts were eaten in salads [10].

  • 10. Barkley, Fred Alexander. 1937. A monographic study of Rhus and its immediate allies in North and Central America, including the West Indies. Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden. 24(3): 265-498. [392]
  • 16. Brinkman, Kenneth A. 1974. Rhus L. sumac. In: Schopmeyer, C. S., technical coordinator. Seeds of woody plants in the United States. Agric. Handb. 450. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: 715-719. [6921]
  • 37. Gutknecht, Kurt W. 1989. Xeriscaping: an alternative to thirsty landscapes. Utah Science. 50(4): 142-146. [10166]
  • 44. Hitchcock, C. Leo; Cronquist, Arthur. 1961. Vascular plants of the Pacific Northwest. Part 3: Saxifragaceae to Ericaceae. Seattle, WA: University of Washington Press. 614 p. [1167]
  • 39. Harrington, H. D. 1976. Edible native plants of the Rocky Mountains. Albuquerque, NM: University of New Mexico Press. 392 p. [12903]
  • 59. McCutcheon, A. R.; Ellis, S. M.; Hancock, R. E. W.; Towers, G. H. N. 1994. Antifungal screening of medicinal plants of British Columbian native peoples. Journal of Enthnopharmacology. 44(3): 157-169. [29777]
  • 67. Raunkiaer, C. 1934. The life forms of plants and statistical plant geography. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 632 p. [2843]
  • 72. Shaw, Dale L. 1988. The design and use of living snow fences in North America. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment. 22/23: 351-362. [8775]
  • 71. Saxena, G.; McCutcheon, A. R.; Farmer, S.; [and others]. 1994. Antimicrobial constituents of Rhus glabra. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 42(2): 95-99. [29748]

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Value for rehabilitation of disturbed sites

More info for the term: shrubs

Smooth sumac is rated low in potential for short-term revegetation and moderate in potential for long-term revegetation [15]. It is useful in controlling soil erosion and for roadside planting [66]. Smooth sumac shrubs were among 17 native species successfully planted on an abandoned landfill in New York, chosen because of their value to wildlife. Survival of planted smooth sumac shrubs was greater than 50% on reclaimed strip mines in Texas [35]. In Montana it is propagated commercially [7] and has been used with limited success to revegetate road cuts [47].

Smooth sumac recovered naturally in disturbed stream channels in Tennessee [48] and abandoned coal mines in West Virginia [48,74] though the authors did not indicate whether the regeneration was from seed or rhizomes.

Propagation: Rootstocks can be easily propagated [78] and generally survive even when transplanted onto very severe sites [66].

Seed production and handling characteristics are described as "good" [65]. Smooth sumac seed remains viable 5 or more years in storage [78]. Seed stored for 10 years exhibited 63% germination following sulfuric acid treatments [16]. Sulfuric acid treatments aid germination [15,16,41,44].

  • 41. Heit, C. E. 1967. Propagation from seed. Part 7: Germinating six hardseeded groups. American Nurseryman. 125(12): 10-12; 37-41; 44-45. [1120]
  • 47. Hungerford, Roger D. 1984. Native shrubs: suitability for revegetating road cuts in northwestern Montana. Res. Pap. INT-331. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Forest and Range Experiment Station. 13 p. [1220]
  • 7. Atthowe, Helen. 1993. Propagation of riparian and wetland plants. In: Landis, Thomas D., ed. Proceedings, Western Forest Nursery Association; 1992 September 14-18; Fallen Leaf Lake, CA. Gen. Tech. Rep. RM-221. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station: 78-81. [22076]
  • 16. Brinkman, Kenneth A. 1974. Rhus L. sumac. In: Schopmeyer, C. S., technical coordinator. Seeds of woody plants in the United States. Agric. Handb. 450. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: 715-719. [6921]
  • 44. Hitchcock, C. Leo; Cronquist, Arthur. 1961. Vascular plants of the Pacific Northwest. Part 3: Saxifragaceae to Ericaceae. Seattle, WA: University of Washington Press. 614 p. [1167]
  • 66. Plummer, A. Perry; Christensen, Donald R.; Monsen, Stephen B. 1968. Restoring big-game range in Utah. Publ. No. 68-3. Ephraim, UT: Utah Division of Fish and Game. 183 p. [4554]
  • 78. Stanton, Frank. 1974. Wildlife guidelines for range fire rehabilitation. Tech. Note 6712. Denver, CO: U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management. 90 p. [2221]
  • 15. Boyd, Ivan L. 1943. Germination tests on four species of sumac. Transactions, Kansas Academy of Science. 46: 5-86. [501]
  • 35. Gorsira, Bryan; Risenhoover, Ken L. 1994. An evaluation of woodland reclamation on strip-mined lands in east Texas. Environmental Management. 18(5): 787-793. [24119]
  • 48. Hupp, Cliff R. 1992. Riparian vegetation recovery patterns following stream channelization: a geomorphic perspective. Ecology. 73(4): 1209-1226. [19499]
  • 65. Plummer, A. Perry. 1977. Revegetation of disturbed Intermountain area sites. In: Thames, J. C., ed. Reclamation and use of disturbed lands of the Southwest. Tucson, AZ: University of Arizona Press: 302-337. [171]
  • 74. Skousen, J. G.; Johnson, C. D.; Garbutt, K. 1994. Natural revegetation of 15 abandoned mone land sites in West Virginia. Journal of Environmental Quality. 23: 1224-1230. [25964]

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Cover Value

More info for the term: cover

Smooth sumac, which often grows in dense thickets, provides cover for many birds and mammals [24,12,53,72,92]. Cover value has been rated as follows [26]: CO ND UT WY Pronghorn ---- ---- Poor Poor Elk ---- ---- Fair Fair Mule deer ---- ---- Fair Fair White-tailed deer ---- Fair ---- Fair Small mammals Fair Fair ---- Fair Small nongame birds Fair ---- Good Fair Upland game birds ---- ---- Fair Fair Waterfowl ---- ---- Poor Poor

  • 26. Dittberner, Phillip L.; Olson, Michael R. 1983. The plant information network (PIN) data base: Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming. FWS/OBS-83/86. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service. 786 p. [806]
  • 12. Bell, Jack H.; Lauer, Jerry L.; Peek, James M. 1992. Habitat use patterns of white-tailed deer, Umatilla River, Oregon. Northwest Science. 66(3): 160-171. [19276]
  • 24. DeMauro, Marcella M. 1993. Colonial nesting bird responses to vistor use at Lake Renwick Heron Rookery, Illinois. Natural Areas Journal. 13(1): 4-9. [20160]
  • 53. Kraus, Kent E.; Smith, Christopher C. 1987. Fox squirrel use of prairie habitats in relation to winter food supply and vegetation density. Prairie Naturalist. 19(2): 115-120. [150]
  • 72. Shaw, Dale L. 1988. The design and use of living snow fences in North America. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment. 22/23: 351-362. [8775]
  • 92. Wertz, Tara L.; Flake, Lester D. 1988. Wild turkey nesting ecology in south central South Dakota. Prairie Naturalist. 20(1): 29-37. [9335]

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Nutritional Value



Smooth sumac is rated poor in both energy and protein value [26]. Soper and others [77] observed significant (P less than 0.05) seasonal fluctuations in smooth sumac nutritional value and an increase in dry matter digestibility after treatment with herbicides.

  • 26. Dittberner, Phillip L.; Olson, Michael R. 1983. The plant information network (PIN) data base: Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming. FWS/OBS-83/86. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service. 786 p. [806]
  • 77. Soper, Roderick B.; Lochmiller, Robert L.; Leslie, David M., Jr.; Engle, David M. 1993. Nutritional quality of browse after brush management on cross timbers rangeland. Journal of Range Management. 46(5): 399-410. [29365]

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Cultivation

The preference is full sun to light shade, and moist to dry conditions. The soil can consist of loam or clay loam; some rocky material is also acceptable. Smooth Sumac often grows in soil with a higher pH than other sumacs. It is an easy plant to grow from large transplants, but often becomes aggressive.
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Palatability



Smooth sumac fruits are palatable to many species of birds and small
mammals. Wild turkey, gray partridge, and mourning dove also feed on
the fruits [78].

Smooth sumac is moderately palatable to wintering mule deer [66,78]. In general, however,
smooth sumac is relatively unpalatable to most big game and domestic livestock. Overall
palatability is as follows [26]: CO ND UT WY

Cattle Poor ---- Poor Poor
Domestic sheep Poor ---- Poor Poor
Horses Poor ---- Poor Poor
Pronghorn ---- ---- Poor Poor
Bighorn ---- ---- ---- ----
Elk ---- ---- Poor Poor
Mt. goat ---- ---- ---- ----
Mule deer ---- ---- Poor Fair
White-tailed deer ---- Fair Fair ----
Small mammals ---- ---- Fair Good
Small nongame birds ---- ---- Fair Fair
Upland game birds ---- ---- Fair Fair
Waterfowl ---- ---- Poor Poor

  • 26. Dittberner, Phillip L.; Olson, Michael R. 1983. The plant information network (PIN) data base: Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming. FWS/OBS-83/86. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service. 786 p. [806]
  • 66. Plummer, A. Perry; Christensen, Donald R.; Monsen, Stephen B. 1968. Restoring big-game range in Utah. Publ. No. 68-3. Ephraim, UT: Utah Division of Fish and Game. 183 p. [4554]
  • 78. Stanton, Frank. 1974. Wildlife guidelines for range fire rehabilitation. Tech. Note 6712. Denver, CO: U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management. 90 p. [2221]

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Importance to Livestock and Wildlife

Birds, insects, and mammals consume smooth sumac fruits and leaves [9,69,81,95]. Because the drupes persist through the fall and winter months, smooth sumac provides a ready food source when other foods are scarce or unavailable. It is browsed by deer, particularly during the winter months when more preferred browse is scarce [95]. This species provides little forage for domestic livestock [66].

  • 9. Balfour, Patty M. 1989. Effects of forest herbicides on some important wildlife forage species. Victoria, BC: British Columbia Ministry of Forests, Research Branch. 58 p. [12148]
  • 66. Plummer, A. Perry; Christensen, Donald R.; Monsen, Stephen B. 1968. Restoring big-game range in Utah. Publ. No. 68-3. Ephraim, UT: Utah Division of Fish and Game. 183 p. [4554]
  • 69. Robinson, George R.; Handel, Steven N. 1993. Forest restoration on a closed landfill: rapid addition of new species by bird dispersal. Conservation Biology. 7(2): 271-278. [22062]
  • 81. Strauss, Sharon Y. 1991. Direct, indirect, and cumulative effects of three native herbivores on a shared host plant. Ecology. 72(2): 543-558. [14266]
  • 95. Willson, Mary F. 1993. Mammals as seed-dispersal mutualists in North America. Oikos. 67: 159-176. [27081]

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Uses

Ethnobotanic: This was a widely used species among Native American tribes. The uses included the making of a root and leaf tea to treat diarrhea, dysentery, and mouth/throat ulcers. The leaves of the plant were smoked for asthma. The blossoms were used by the Chippewa in a mouthwash for teething children. Comanche children enjoyed the sour acid taste of the fruits and leaves were added to tobacco for smoking by adults. Dye was also created from various parts of the smooth sumac. The fruits were used to make red dyes and the inner bark used to make yellow dyes.

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Risks

Stewardship Overview: In healthy or non-grazed grasslands, competition with grasses,drought, and fire may have a cumulative effect that results in preventing shrub dominance. Where Rhus glabra needs to be managed, however, cutting for 2 or 3 succesive years shortly after flowering (late spring-early summer) can help control the spread of sumac. Cutting can also be used in combination with herbicides or prescribed burns.

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Wikipedia

Rhus glabra

Rhus glabra (smooth sumac) is a species of sumac in the family Anacardiaceae, native to North America, from southern Quebec west to southern British Columbia in Canada, and south to northern Florida and Arizona in the United States and Tamaulipas in northeastern Mexico.

One of the easiest shrubs to identify throughout the year (unless mistaken for Rhus vernix, poison sumac, in the absence of mature fruit) smooth sumac has a spreading, open-growing shrub growing up to 3 metres (9.8 ft) tall, rarely to 5 metres (16 ft). The leaves are alternate, 30–50 cm long, compound with 11-31 leaflets, each leaflet 5–11 cm long, with a serrated margin. The leaves turn scarlet in the fall. The flowers are tiny, green, produced in dense erect panicles 10–25 centimetres (3.9–9.8 in) tall, in the spring, later followed by large panicles of edible crimson berries that remain throughout the winter. The buds are small, covered with brown hair and borne on fat, hairless twigs. The bark on older wood is smooth and grey to brown.

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Names and Taxonomy

Taxonomy



The documented scientific name of smooth sumac is Rhus glabra L. (Anacardiaceae)
[36,44,51]. There are no infrataxa. Smooth sumac and staghorn sumac (R. typhina) hybridize [58].

  • 36. Great Plains Flora Association. 1986. Flora of the Great Plains. Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas. 1392 p. [1603]
  • 44. Hitchcock, C. Leo; Cronquist, Arthur. 1961. Vascular plants of the Pacific Northwest. Part 3: Saxifragaceae to Ericaceae. Seattle, WA: University of Washington Press. 614 p. [1167]
  • 58. Little, Elbert L., Jr. 1979. Checklist of United States trees (native and naturalized). Agric. Handb. 541. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. 375 p. [2952]
  • 51. Kartesz, John T. 1994. A synonymized checklist of the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. Volume I--checklist. 2nd ed. Portland, OR: Timber Press. 622 p. [23877]

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Common Names

smooth sumac

common sumac

Rocky Mountain sumac

red sumac

western sumac

white sumac

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