Overview

Comprehensive Description

Comments

Fragrant Sumac is smaller and less aggressive than Rhus glabra (Smooth Sumac) and Rhus typhina (Staghorn Sumac). The flowers of Fragrant Sumac bloom earlier in the spring and its drupes ripen earlier in the summer than these other species. Its compound leaves are trifoliate, while the odd-pinnate leaves of other Sumacs in Illinois have many more leaflets than this. These other Sumacs also lack the aromatic foliage of Fragrant Sumac.
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Description

This native woody shrub is 2-8' tall. Depending on the variety, it is variable in size and branching habit. Fragrant Sumac can be an erect shrub with ascending branches, or it can be a low shrub with spreading branches. The trunk and lower branches are greyish brown and woody, while the upper branches are more or less pubescent. The alternate leaves are trifoliate. The individual leaflets are up to 3" long and 1½" across, although they are often half this size. The terminal leaflet is somewhat larger than the lateral leaflets. They are elliptic, oval-ovate, oblanceolate, or obovate in shape, coarsely crenate or shallowly cleft along their margins, and green, yellowish green, or red. The upper surface of each leaflet is glabrous to finely pubescent (canescent), while the lower surface is sparsely pubescent to softly hairy. Each leaflet is sessile, or it has a short petiole. The crushed foliage has a pleasant bittersweet fragrance. Occasionally, short spikes of flowers or panicles of floral spikes are produced from the axils of the leaves. These flowers can appear before or during the early development of the leaves. Each floral spike is up to 1" long. The individual flowers are greenish yellow, short-tubular in shape, and about 1/8" long; they can be perfect or unisexual (male or female). The blooming period occurs during the spring. During the summer, the flowers are replaced by hairy red drupes. Each drupe is up to ¼" across and globoid-ovoid in shape; it contains a single stone (seed with a hard coat). The root system consists of a woody branching taproot.
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Description

General: Sumac family (Anacardiaceae). Straggling to upright native shrubs 0.5-2(-2.5) meters tall (rarely tree-like), forming colonial thickets of up to 10 feet spread, suckering from the roots, the branches slender ascending, puberulent, glabrate, or densely pilose; buds naked, tiny, yellow, hairy, surrounded by a raised, circular leaf scar. Leaves: deciduous, alternate, compound with 3 leaflets, variable in shape, lobing, and margin, the leaflets unstalked, ovate to rhomboid, more or less wedge-shaped at the base, coarsely-toothed, usually shiny-glabrous above, the terminal leaflet 3-6.5 cm long; summer foliage green to glossy blue-green, turning orange to red or purple in the fall. Flowers: yellow, in small, dense inflorescences on short lateral shoots, opening before the leaves, bisexual and unisexual, both types borne on the same plant (the species polygamodioecious); male (staminate) flowers in yellowish catkins, female (pistillate) flowers in bright yellow, short panicles at the ends of branches. Fruits: 5-7 mm in diameter, bright red at maturity and densely hairy, containing a single nutlet 3.8-4.5 mm long, in terminal clusters. The common name “sumac” is from the Middle English for related tree. The leaves are fragrant or at least odorous.

Variation within the species: three varieties are currently recognized, based on differences in geography, leaf shape, and pubescence of stems, leaves, and fruits. Var. aromatica occurs over nearly the whole range of the species.

Rhus aromatica var. arenaria (Greene) Fern. – restricted to Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois.

Rhus aromatica var. serotina (Greene) Rehd. – the western segment, occurring from South Dakota to Texas and eastward to Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa, and Illinois. It apparently intergrades with forms of Rhus trilobata where their ranges meet in the Great Plains (mainly from Texas to South Dakota).

Distribution: Fragrant sumac is native to most of the US east of the Rocky Mountains, from Ontario and western Quebec, Massachusetts and New Hampshire to Florida and west to the Great Plains in Texas to South Dakota. For current distribution, please consult the Plant Profile page for this species on the PLANTS Web site.

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Source: USDA NRCS PLANTS Database

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Alternative names

Aromatic sumac, lemon sumac, polecat bush

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USDA NRCS National Plant Data Center & the Biota of North America Program

Source: USDA NRCS PLANTS Database

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Distribution

Range and Habitat in Illinois

Aromatic Sumac is occasional in parts of southern, western, and northern Illinois; it is uncommon or absent from east central Illinois (see Distribution Map). This map combines the distribution of the different varieties of Aromatic Sumac. Aromatic Sumac is more tree-like and erect in southern Illinois, but a low spreading shrub elsewhere in the state. Habitats include thinly wooded bluffs, upland rocky woods, barren rocky areas, limestone glades, sandy savannas, sand prairies, and sand dunes. Aromatic Sumac is often cultivated as an ornamental shrub in yards or along buildings and city streets. Faunal Associations
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Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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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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Species: There is some confusion in the literature as to the distribution of fragrant sumac because of the difficulty in differentiating fragrant sumac from skunkbush sumac [4,18,86]. For this review, fragrant sumac is discussed in its eastern range from Quebec, Ontario and Vermont, south to the Florida panhandle, west to eastern South Dakota, and central Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas. [4,13,45,68].

Varieties: R. aromatica var. aromatica occurs throughout the distribution of fragrant sumac. R. aromatica var. arenaria occurs in northern Ohio, northern Indiana, and northeastern Illinois [11,25,37,54]. R. aromatica var. serotina occurs in Arkansas, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Texas [25,37]. R. aromatica var. illinoensis occurs in Illinois, Kansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma [25].

Plants database provides a distributional map of fragrant sumac and its infrataxa [79] .

  • 11. Braun, E. Lucy. 1961. The woody plants of Ohio. Columbus, OH: Ohio State University Press. 362 p. [12914]
  • 13. 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]
  • 18. Diggs, George M., Jr.; Lipscomb, Barney L.; O'Kennon, Robert J. 1999. Illustrated flora of north-central Texas. Sida Botanical Miscellany No. 16. Fort Worth, TX: Botanical Research Institute of Texas. 1626 p. [35698]
  • 25. Gleason, Henry A.; Cronquist, Arthur. 1991. Manual of vascular plants of northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. 2nd ed. New York: New York Botanical Garden. 910 p. [20329]
  • 37. Kartesz, John T.; Meacham, Christopher A. 1999. Synthesis of the North American flora (Windows Version 1.0), [CD-ROM]. Available: North Carolina Botanical Garden. In cooperation with the Nature Conservancy, Natural Resources Conservation Service, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service [2001, January 16]. [36715]
  • 4. 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]
  • 45. Li, Xiaojie; Baskin, Jerry M.; Baskin, Carol C. 1999. Contrasting dispersal phenologies in two fleshy-fruited congeneric shrubs, Rhus aromatica Ait. and Rhus glabra L. (Anacardiaceae). Canadian Journal of Botany. 77(7): 976-988. [46873]
  • 54. Mohlenbrock, Robert H. 1986. [Revised edition]. Guide to the vascular flora of Illinois. Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois University Press. 507 p. [17383]
  • 68. Rowe, D. Bradley; Blazich, Frank A. 2002. Rhus L.: sumac. In: Bonner, Franklin T., tech. coord. Woody plant seed manual, [Online]. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service (Producer). Available: http://wpsm.net/Rhus.pdf [2004, March 29]. [47243]
  • 79. U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Resource Conservation Service. 2005. PLANTS database (2004), [Online]. Available: http://plants.usda.gov/. [34262]
  • 86. Wheeler, A. G., Jr.; Rawlins, John E. 1993. Calophya triozomima Schwarz, a sumac-feeding psyllid new to the eastern United States (Homoptera: Psylloidea: Calophyidae). Proceedings, Entomological Society of Washington. 95(1): 99-106. [47324]

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States or Provinces

(key to state/province abbreviations)
UNITED STATES
AL AR CT FL GA IL IN IA KS
KY LA MD MA MI MN MS MO
NE NH NJ NY NC OH OK PA
SC SD TN TX VT VA WV WI

CANADA
ON PQ

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Regional Distribution in the Western United States

More info on this topic.

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):

BLM PHYSIOGRAPHIC REGIONS [8]:

14 Great Plains
  • 8. Bernard, Stephen R.; Brown, Kenneth F. 1977. Distribution of mammals, reptiles, and amphibians by BLM physiographic regions and A.W. Kuchler's associations for the eleven western states. Tech. Note 301. Denver, CO: U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management. 169 p. [434]

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Adaptation

Fragrant sumac is common along the forested eastern margins of the Great Plains and in open or otherwise disturbed sites on the margins of the Gulf Coast prairie. It grows at a range of sites including open rocky woodlands, valley bottoms, lower rocky slopes, and roadsides. Flowering: March-May, usually before the leaves expand; fruiting: June-August.

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USDA NRCS National Plant Data Center & the Biota of North America Program

Source: USDA NRCS PLANTS Database

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Physical Description

Morphology

Description

More info for the terms: layering, shrub

This description provides characteristics that may be relevant to fire ecology, and is not meant for identification. Several florae provide keys for identifying fragrant sumac [4,11,25,26,34,69].

Fragrant sumac is a native woody shrub that achieves a mature height of 5 to 8.2 feet (1.5-2.5 m) [4,74]. Fragrant sumac typically has a thicket-forming growth habit as a result of prolific layering and sprouting [13,56]. Leaves are fragrant when bruised, deciduous and alternate with 3 leaflets that are variable in shape, lobing, and margin [26]. Mature leaflets are usually coarsely-toothed; terminal leaflets are 1.8 to 2.6 inches long (3-6.5 cm) [25]. Flower buds are formed terminally in the summer for flowering the following spring [11]. Individual flowers are inconspicuous and produced in showy, dense clusters or spikes, 0.7 to 2.5 inches (2-8 cm) long. The fruits are hairy drupes, 0.2 to 0.3 inches (5 - 7 mm) in diameter, each containing a single seed [26]. Fragrant sumac is rhizomatous, and forms an extensive, shallow root system [68]. Fragrant sumac can tolerate sites with high moisture fluctuations from saturation/flooding in winter and spring to extremely dry in summer [7].

  • 11. Braun, E. Lucy. 1961. The woody plants of Ohio. Columbus, OH: Ohio State University Press. 362 p. [12914]
  • 13. 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]
  • 25. Gleason, Henry A.; Cronquist, Arthur. 1991. Manual of vascular plants of northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. 2nd ed. New York: New York Botanical Garden. 910 p. [20329]
  • 26. Great Plains Flora Association. 1986. Flora of the Great Plains. Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas. 1392 p. [1603]
  • 34. Hunter, Carl G. 1989. Trees, shrubs, and vines of Arkansas. Little Rock, AR: The Ozark Society Foundation. 207 p. [21266]
  • 4. 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]
  • 56. Nantel, Patrick; Gagnon, Daniel. 1999. Variability in the dynamics of northern peripheral versus southern populations of two clonal plant species, Helianthus divaricatus and Rhus aromatica. Journal of Ecology. 87(5): 748-760. [46868]
  • 68. Rowe, D. Bradley; Blazich, Frank A. 2002. Rhus L.: sumac. In: Bonner, Franklin T., tech. coord. Woody plant seed manual, [Online]. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service (Producer). Available: http://wpsm.net/Rhus.pdf [2004, March 29]. [47243]
  • 69. Seymour, Frank Conkling. 1982. The flora of New England. 2d ed. Phytologia Memoirs 5. Plainfield, NJ: Harold N. Moldenke and Alma L. Moldenke. 611 p. [7604]
  • 7. Baskin, Jerry M.; Webb, David H.; Baskin, Carol C. 1995. A floristic plant ecology study of the limestone glades of northern Alabama. Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club. 122(3): 226-242. [46869]
  • 74. Soper, James H.; Heimburger, Margaret L. 1982. Shrubs of Ontario. Life Sciences Miscellaneous Publications. Toronto, ON: Royal Ontario Museum. 495 p. [12907]

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Ecology

Habitat

Range and Habitat in Illinois

Aromatic Sumac is occasional in parts of southern, western, and northern Illinois; it is uncommon or absent from east central Illinois (see Distribution Map). This map combines the distribution of the different varieties of Aromatic Sumac. Aromatic Sumac is more tree-like and erect in southern Illinois, but a low spreading shrub elsewhere in the state. Habitats include thinly wooded bluffs, upland rocky woods, barren rocky areas, limestone glades, sandy savannas, sand prairies, and sand dunes. Aromatic Sumac is often cultivated as an ornamental shrub in yards or along buildings and city streets. Faunal Associations
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Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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Key Plant Community Associations

More info for the terms: alliance, association, climax, hardwood, shrub, tree

Eastern redcedar communities:

Fragrant sumac is a common shrub or small tree component in eastern redcedar
(Juniperus virginiana) communities throughout much of its range [7,14,29,30,39,42,57,67,70,72]. In Tennessee cedar glades, fragrant sumac thickets
develop in open-canopy forests where eastern redcedar is the predominant tree
species; winged elm (Ulmus alata), hackberry (Celtis occidentalis),
oaks (Quercus. spp.) and ash (Fraxinus spp.) often become mixed
with the eastern redcedar component in later successional stages [63]. In a
description of an eastern redcedar savannah in Ontario, fragrant sumac is listed
as being a component of the "rich understory layer" in association with
downy pagoda-plant (Blephilia ciliata), common hop tree (Ptelea trifoliata),
and hairyjoint meadowparsnip (Thaspium barbinode) [38]. In the Piedmont and
Blue Ridge provinces of North Carolina, the eastern redcedar-dominated communities
where fragrant sumac occurs may contain Virginia pine (Pinus virginiana)
and a variety of deciduous hardwood associates: pignut hickory (Carya glabra),
northern red oak (Q. rubra), white ash (F. americana), red maple
(Acer rubrum), chestnut oak (Q. prinus), mockernut hickory
(C. tomentosa), and American elm (U. americana) [72]. In New York, the
eastern redcedar component may also contain American elm, rock elm (U. thomasii),
bur oak (Q. macrocarpa), white ash, shagbark hickory (C. ovata),
basswood (Tilia americana), pin cherry (Prunus pensylvanica),
paper birch (Betula papyrifera), and eastern white pine (Pinus strobus) [66]. Other woody associates commonly found associated with eastern redcedar in communities
where fragrant sumac occurs are blackjack oak (Q.marilandica), Carolina
buckthorn (Frangula caroliniana), rusty blackhaw (Viburnum rufidulum),
dwarf hackberry (Celtis tenuifolia), coralberry (Symphoricarpos orbiculatus),
and Alabama supplejack (Berchemia scandens). Herbaceous associates may include little
bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium), indiangrass (Sorghastrum nutans), switchgrass
(Panicum virgatum), dropseed (Sporobolus spp.), yellow fumewort
(Corydalis flavula), anemone (Anemone spp.), creamflower rockcress
(Arabis hirsuta var. pycnocarpa), roundleaf ragwort (Packera obovata),
Wright's cliffbrake (Pellaea wrightiana), red columbine (Aquilegia canadensis),
and various sedges (Carex spp.) [42,70,72].

Oak and oak-hickory communities:
Fragrant sumac is a common woody shrub in a variety of oak and oak-hickory communities [53].
The species occurs in black oak (Q. velutina) forests in Illinois as an
understory component with common pricklyash (Zanthoxylum americanum) and gray
dogwood (Cornus racemosa) [58], and is also found in the understory of drier
black oak communities in southeastern Michigan [3]. Fragrant sumac is "locally
abundant" in the post oak-black hickory forest community [39] of the Missouri Ozarks,
and is also common in oak-hickory (Carya spp.) communities in Illinois [50] and
Tennessee [64]. In the Upper Midwest states and southeastern Ontario,
fragrant sumac occurs in dry, calcareous oak savannas dominated by white oak,
chinkapin oak (Q. muehlenbergii), and shagbark hickory [88]. In
West Virginia, fragrant sumac occurs in the Appalachian oak and oak-hickory-pine
(Pinus spp) forest associations [78]. Fragrant sumac occurs in the basic
oak-hickory forest type in North Carolina with a variety of hickory species and
the primary oaks being white, post, black, and chinkapin [70].

Other woody communities:
Fragrant sumac is one of the most common woody plants found in the Ashe's juniper
(J. ashei) communities in southwestern Missouri [28]. In the Ozark Highlands
of southeastern Missouri, fragrant sumac can be found as a shrub component in pine-oak
forests composed of shortleaf pine (Pinus echinata), black oak, white oak (Q.
alba), post oak (Q. stellata), blackjack oak, black hickory (C.
texana) and mockernut hickory [10,75]. In the limestone and dolomitic glades of the
Ozark region in Missouri and northwestern Arkansas, fragrant sumac is one of the most common
shrub species in the sugar maple (Acer saccharum)-white oak climax communities
that develop along the edges of grass/forb-dominated openings [6]. In Ohio,
fragrant sumac commonly occurs in the rocky banks and sand dunes along edges of
the elm (Ulmus spp.)-ash forest association [11]. In West Virginia,
fragrant sumac occurs in the northern hardwoods forest association [78].

Grassland communities:
In addition to the forest communities discussed above, fragrant sumac
occurs in a variety of grassland communities [53]. In the tallgrass prairie region
of Kansas, fragrant sumac is one of the most abundant shrub species where the predominant
grasses are bluestem (Andropogon spp.), indiangrass, little bluestem, and switchgrass [12];
it can be found in shrub thickets that dominate upper draws and limestone outcrops, and it also
occurs as an understory species in the forested areas dominated by bur oak, chinkapin oak, hackberry,
and American elm [22]. Fragrant sumac occurs in the tallgrass savannas in Illinois [60], with
little bluestem in Tennessee [5], and in the blackjack oak/little bluestem woodland association in
Oklahoma [33]. In eastern Oklahoma, fragrant sumac can be dominant enough in some areas to form a
fragrant sumac shrubland alliance and a fragrant sumac shrubland association [33].
  • 10. Braun, E. Lucy. 1950. The oak-hickory forest region. In: Braun, E. Lucy. Deciduous forests of eastern North America. Philadelphia, PA: Blakiston Books: 162-191. [28381]
  • 11. Braun, E. Lucy. 1961. The woody plants of Ohio. Columbus, OH: Ohio State University Press. 362 p. [12914]
  • 12. Briggs, John M.; Knapp, Alan K.; Brock, Brent L. 2002. Expansion of woody plants in tallgrass prairie: a fifteen-year study of fire and fire-grazing interactions. American Midland Naturalist. 147(2): 287-294. [41386]
  • 14. Bryant, William S. 1989. Redcedar (Juniperus virginiana L.) communities in the Kentucky River Gorge area of the bluegrass region of Kentucky. In: Rink, George; Budelsky, Carl A., eds. Proceedings, 7th central hardwood conference; 1989 March 5-8; Carbondale, IL. Gen. Tech. Rep. NC-132. St. Paul, MN: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, North Central Forest Experiment Station: 254-261. [9387]
  • 22. Freeman, Craig C. 1998. The flora of Konza Prairie: A historical review and contemporary patterns. In: Knapp, Alan K.; Briggs, John M.; Hartnett, David C.; Collins, Scott L., eds. Grassland dynamics: Long-term ecological research in tallgrass prairie. New York: Oxford University Press: 69-80. [45919]
  • 28. Hall, Marion Trufant. 1952. Variation and hybridization in Juniperus. Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden. 39(1): 1-64. [19850]
  • 29. Harper, Roland M. 1926. The cedar glades of middle Tennessee. Ecology. 7: 48-54. [14188]
  • 3. Archambault, Louis; Barnes, Burton V.; Witter, John A. 1989. Ecological species groups of oak ecosystems of southeastern Michigan. Forest Science. 35(4): 1058-1074. [9768]
  • 30. Heikens, Alice Long; West, K. Andrew; Robertson, Philip. 1994. Short-term response of chert and shale barrens vegetation to fire in southwestern Illinois. Castanea. 59(3): 274-285. [39748]
  • 33. Hoagland, Bruce. 2000. The vegetation of Oklahoma: a classification for landscape mapping and conservation planning. The Southwestern Naturalist. 45(4): 385-420. [41226]
  • 38. Kirk, Donald A. 1994. Stone Road alvar, Pelee Island: management of an unusual oak savannah community type in the western Lake Erie archipelago. In: Wickett, Robert G.; Lewis, Patricia Dolan; Woodliffe, Allen; Pratt, Paul, eds. Spirit of the land, our prairie legacy: Proceedings, 13th North American prairie conference; 1992 August 6-9; Windsor, ON. Windsor, ON: Windsor Department of Parks and Recreation: 33-43. [24675]
  • 39. Kucera, C. L.; Martin, S. Clark. 1957. Vegetation and soil relationships in the glade region of the southwestern Missouri Ozarks. Ecology. 38: 285-291. [11126]
  • 42. Lawson, Edwin R. 1990. Juniperus virginiana L. eastern redcedar. In: Burns, Russell M.; Honkala, Barbara H., technical coordinators. Silvics of North America. Volume 1. Conifers. Agric. Handb. 654. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: 131-140. [13378]
  • 5. Baskin, Jerry M.; Baskin, Carol C. 1977. An undescribed cedar glade community in middle Tennessee. Castanea. 42(2): 140-145. [35436]
  • 50. Maier, Chris T. 1976. An annotated list of the vascular plants of Sand Ridge State Forest, Mason County, Illinois. Transactions, Illinois State Academy of Sciences. 69(2): 153-175. [37897]
  • 53. McGinnies, William G. 1972. North America. In: McKell, Cyrus M.; Blaisdell, James P.; Goodin, Joe R., tech. eds. Wildland shrubs--their biology and utilization: An international symposium: Proceedings; 1971 July; Logan, UT. Gen. Tech. Rep. INT-1. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Forest and Range Experiment Station: 55-66. [22750]
  • 57. Nelson, Paul; Ladd, Douglas. 1983. Preliminary report on the identification, distribution and classification of Missouri glades. In: Kucera, Clair L., ed. Proceedings, 7th North American prairie conference; 1980 August 4-6; Springfield, MO. Columbia, MO: University of Missouri: 59-76. [3195]
  • 58. Nuzzo, Victoria A.; McClain, William; Strole, Todd. 1996. Fire impact on groundlayer flora in a sand forest: 1990--1994. The American Midland Naturalist. 136(2): 207-221. [27303]
  • 6. Baskin, Jerry M.; Baskin, Carol C. 2000. Vegetation of limestone and dolomite glades in the Ozarks and midwest regions of the United States. Annals of the Missouri Botanical Gardens. 87(2): 286-294. [38098]
  • 60. Packard, Stephen. 1988. Rediscovering the tallgrass savanna of Illinois. In: Davis, Arnold; Stanford, Geoffrey, eds. The prairie: roots of our culture; foundation of our economy: Proceedings, 10th North American prairie conference; 1986 June 22-26; Denton, TX. Dallas, TX: Native Prairie Association of Texas: 01.14. [25581]
  • 63. Quarterman, Elsie. 1950. Major plant communities of Tennessee cedar glades. Ecology. 31: 234-254. [11129]
  • 64. Quarterman, Elsie; Turner, Barbara Holman; Hemmerly, Thomas E. 1972. Analysis of virgin mixed mesophytic forests in Savage Gulf, Tennessee. Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club. 99(5): 228-232. [11128]
  • 66. Reschke, Carol. 1990. Ecological communities of New York State. Latham, NY: New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Natural Heritage Program. 96 p. [21441]
  • 67. Rogers, Carolyn L.; Ratnaswamy, Mary J.; Warren, Robert J. 1993. Vegetation communities of Chickamauga Battlefield National Military Park, Georgia. Technical Report NPS/SERCHCH/NRTR-93/11. [Atlanta, GA]: U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, Southeast Region. 83 p. [43693]
  • 7. Baskin, Jerry M.; Webb, David H.; Baskin, Carol C. 1995. A floristic plant ecology study of the limestone glades of northern Alabama. Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club. 122(3): 226-242. [46869]
  • 70. Shafale, Michael P.; Weakley, Alan S. 1990. Classification of the natural communities of North Carolina: Third approximation. Raleigh, NC: Department of Environment, Health, and Natural Resources, Division of Parks and Recreation, North Carolina Natural Heritage Program. 325 p. [41937]
  • 72. Small, Christine J.; Wentworth, Thomas R. 1998. Characterization of montane cedar-hardwood woodlands in the Piedmont and Blue Ridge provinces of North Carolina. Castanea. 63(3): 241-261. [39637]
  • 75. Stambaugh, Michael C.; Muzika, Rose-Marie; Guyette, Richard P. 2002. Disturbance characteristics and overstory composition of old-growth shortleaf pine (Pinus echinata Mill.) forest in the Ozark Highlands, Missouri, USA. Natural Areas Journal. 22(2): 108-119. [46104]
  • 78. Strausbaugh, P. D.; Core, Earl L. 1977. Flora of West Virginia. 2nd ed. Morgantown, WV: Seneca Books, Inc. 1079 p. [23213]
  • 88. Will-Wolfe, Susan; Stearns, Forest. 1998. Characterization of dry site oak savanna in the Upper Midwest. Transactions, Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters. 86: 223-234. [39626]

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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 terms: cover, hardwood

SRM (RANGELAND) COVER TYPES [71]:

601 Bluestem prairie

710 Bluestem prairie

731 Cross timbers-Oklahoma

732 Cross timbers-Texas (little bluestem-post oak)

802 Missouri prairie

803 Missouri glades

804 Tall fescue

809 Mixed hardwood and pine
  • 71. Shiflet, Thomas N., ed. 1994. Rangeland cover types of the United States. Denver, CO: Society for Range Management. 152 p. [23362]

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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):

More info for the term: cover

SAF COVER TYPES [20]:

14 Northern pin oak

27 Sugar maple

40 Post oak-blackjack oak

42 Bur oak

46 Eastern redcedar

51 White pine-chestnut oak

52 White oak-black oak-northern red oak

53 White oak

55 Northern red oak

76 Shortleaf pine-oak

78 Virginia pine-oak

82 Loblolly pine-hardwood

108 Red maple

110 Black oak
  • 20. Eyre, F. H., ed. 1980. Forest cover types of the United States and Canada. Washington, DC: Society of American Foresters. 148 p. [905]

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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):

KUCHLER [41]:

K031 Oak-juniper woodland

K074 Bluestem prairie

K081 Oak savanna

K082 Mosaic of K074 and K100

K083 Cedar glades

K084 Cross Timbers

K086 Juniper-oak savanna

K100 Oak-hickory forest

K101 Elm-ash forest

K103 Mixed mesophytic forest

K104 Appalachian oak forest

K106 Northern hardwoods

K109 Transition between K104 and K106

K111 Oak-hickory-pine

K112 Southern mixed forest
  • 41. Kuchler, A. W. 1964. United States [Potential natural vegetation of the conterminous United States]. Special Publication No. 36. New York: American Geographical Society. 1:3,168,000; colored. [3455]

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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):

ECOSYSTEMS [23]:

FRES14 Oak-pine

FRES13 Loblolly-shortleaf pine

FRES15 Oak-hickory

FRES18 Maple-beech-birch

FRES38 Plains grasslands

FRES39 Prairie
  • 23. Garrison, George A.; Bjugstad, Ardell J.; Duncan, Don A.; Lewis, Mont E.; Smith, Dixie R. 1977. Vegetation and environmental features of forest and range ecosystems. Agric. Handb. 475. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. 68 p. [998]

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Habitat characteristics

Fragrant sumac is a basophilic plant, i.e., it is associated with high basic (mafic or calcareous) substrates [72].  The species will tolerate a variety of soil types, but is especially well adapted to shallow, infertile, rocky soils, derived from a variety of substrates: dolomite, limestone, sandstone, and chert [6,10,15,30,57]. Sites are typically dry and excessively drained, and are commonly located on sandstone or shale ridges [73].
  • 10. Braun, E. Lucy. 1950. The oak-hickory forest region. In: Braun, E. Lucy. Deciduous forests of eastern North America. Philadelphia, PA: Blakiston Books: 162-191. [28381]
  • 15. Catling, P. M.; Catling, V. R. 1993. Floristic composition, phytogeography, and relationships of prairies, savannas and sand barrens along the Trent River, eastern Ontario. Canadian Field-Naturalist. 107(1): 24-45. [23489]
  • 30. Heikens, Alice Long; West, K. Andrew; Robertson, Philip. 1994. Short-term response of chert and shale barrens vegetation to fire in southwestern Illinois. Castanea. 59(3): 274-285. [39748]
  • 57. Nelson, Paul; Ladd, Douglas. 1983. Preliminary report on the identification, distribution and classification of Missouri glades. In: Kucera, Clair L., ed. Proceedings, 7th North American prairie conference; 1980 August 4-6; Springfield, MO. Columbia, MO: University of Missouri: 59-76. [3195]
  • 6. Baskin, Jerry M.; Baskin, Carol C. 2000. Vegetation of limestone and dolomite glades in the Ozarks and midwest regions of the United States. Annals of the Missouri Botanical Gardens. 87(2): 286-294. [38098]
  • 72. Small, Christine J.; Wentworth, Thomas R. 1998. Characterization of montane cedar-hardwood woodlands in the Piedmont and Blue Ridge provinces of North Carolina. Castanea. 63(3): 241-261. [39637]
  • 73. Smalley, Glendon W. 1986. Classification and evaluation of forest sites on the northern Cumberland Plateau. Gen. Tech. Rep. SO-60. New Orleans, LA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Southern Forest Experiment Station. 74 p. [9832]

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Dispersal

Establishment

Fragrant sumac reproduces from seed or clonally via root suckers. It is a pioneer species, establishing rapidly from seed after heavy disturbance, particularly fire. Browsing by deer may be responsible for rapid early removal of mature fruits; birds are the primary dispersal later. Individual plants may live about 20-30 years; clones can live substantially longer. Fragrant sumac sprouts vigorously after fire, and it can be propagated from root cuttings.

Seed dormancy results from the presence of a hard, impermeable seed coat. Fire scarifies seeds, promoting germination; various artificial methods of pretreatment have been tested, including sulfuric acid, hot water soaks, mechanical scarification, and cold treatment. Pretreated sumac seeds generally begin germination within 10-20 days. The resistant seed coats probably allow the seeds to remain viable for several years in the humus layer, as do those in seeds of some other Rhus species, allowing re-establishment through seed progeny when conditions are favorable for germination and growth.

Public Domain

USDA NRCS National Plant Data Center & the Biota of North America Program

Source: USDA NRCS PLANTS Database

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Associations

Flower-Visiting Insects of Fragrant Sumac in Illinois

Rhus aromatica (Fragrant Sumac)
(Information for pistillate and unspecified flowers; on pistillate flowers, insects suck nectar; on unspecified flowers, insect activity is unspecified; some observations are from Krombein et al. as indicated below, otherwise they are Robertson)

On pistillate flowers:

Bees (long-tongued)
Anthophoridae (Ceratinini): Ceratina calcarata sn; Anthophoridae (Nomadini): Nomada cuneatus sn fq

Bees (short-tongued)
Halictidae (Halictinae): Agapostemon texanus texanus sn, Augochlorella striata sn, Halictus ligatus sn, Lasioglossum cressonii sn, Lasioglossum forbesii sn fq, Lasioglossum foveolatus sn, Lasioglossum foxii sn fq, Lasioglossum imitatus sn, Lasioglossum zephyrus sn fq; Colletidae (Colletinae): Colletes inaequalis sn; Andrenidae (Andreninae): Andrena carlini sn fq, Andrena cressonii sn, Andrena erythrogaster sn, Andrena forbesii sn fq, Andrena imitatrix imitatrix sn fq, Andrena mandibularis sn fq, Andrena mariae sn fq, Andrena miserabilis bipunctata sn fq, Andrena rugosa sn fq, Andrena salictaria sn, Andrena tridens sn

Wasps
Ichneumonidae: Lampronota coxalis sn (Ashmead, MS)

Flies
Syrphidae: Eristalis dimidiatus sn, Eupeodes americanus sn fq, Syrphus ribesii sn; Empididae: Rhamphomyia priapulus sn; Tachinidae: Gonia capitata sn fq; Calliphoridae: Cynomya cadaverina sn; Muscidae: Neomyia cornicina sn fq; Lonchaeidae: Earomyia aberrans sn; Sciomyzidae: Dictya pictipes sn

Flower gender unspecified:

Bees (short-tongued)
Colletidae (Colletinae): Colletes inaequalis (Kr); Andrenidae (Andreninae): Andrena erythrogaster (Kr), Andrena forbesii (Kr), Andrena illinoiensis (Kr), Andrena imitatrix imitatrix (Kr), Andrena nigrae (Kr)

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General Ecology

Broad-scale Impacts of Plant Response to Fire

More info for the terms: competition, cover, density, litter

There is not a clear understanding if seedling recruitment following fire is the
result of fire directly stimulating the germination of banked seed, or if better seedling
survival occurs due to removal of competition [48,85]. Li and others [48] performed
tests on fragrant sumac seeds meant to simulate fire: they burned seeds and subjected
seeds to dry heat and boiling water. All of these treatments were ineffective in promoting seed
germination, so they concluded that in this species, seedling recruitment may
not always increase following fire; seedling establishment following fire is
likely the result of increased seedling survival due to the removal of litter and
light competition, and not the result of enhanced germination by high temperatures.

A spring burn killed 100% of fragrant sumac saplings in an oak-hickory
community in north-central Arkansas; however, seedlings were found establishing
on the site in the 1st summer following the burn at an average density of 3.7
plants/10m2 (there was no determination if "seedlings"
were from seed germination or sprouting) [35].

Fire also eliminated fragrant sumac from an oak-hickory community in
Missouri. The study plots were burned in the spring either annually or on
a 5-year cycle; study was carried out over a 14-year period. In both burn
treatments, fragrant sumac was eliminated and no regrowth of fragrant
sumac was observed [61].

A winter burn eliminated fragrant sumac from the seedling/sapling component
of a little bluestem-indiangrass community in Southern Illinois. Prior to
burning, fragrant sumac existed in the grassland at a density of 58 stems/acre.
One hundred percent of the fragrant sumac stems were killed by the
fire, and no resprouting was observed in the posttreatment surveys done in the
summer of the same year. The lack of resprouting was likely the result of
the fire burning very severely due to a heavy litter accumulation [2].

In a different burn study in a grassland ecosystem, fragrant sumac apparently
increased in occurrence after fire in a tallgrass prairie community in north-eastern
Kansas. The burns were conducted in April and were reported to have moved
slowly, 3.3-6.6 feet/min (1-2 m/sec), and maintained  low flame
heights, <1.6 feet (<0.5m). Fragrant sumac had a 0% canopy cover preburn;
0.1% the 1st year postburn, and 0.5% the 2nd year postburn [1].

Spring burning apparently promoted fragrant sumac in oak and shortleaf pine
savannas in south-central Missouri. The study area was burned in April of
1999 and 2000, and vegetation surveys were performed in August, 1999 and
2000. Fragrant sumac was absent in pretreatment vegetation surveys, but
it showed up in posttreatment surveys (no quantification of sumac occurrence
was given) [49].
  • 1. Abrams, Marc D. 1986. Ecological role of fire in gallery forests in eastern Kansas. 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: 73-80. [16271]
  • 2. Anderson, Roger C.; Van Valkenburg, Charles. 1977. Response of a southern Illinois grassland community to burning. Transactions, Illinois State Academy of Science. 69(4): 399-414. [19481]
  • 35. Jenkins, Michael A.; Jenkins, Sean E. 1996. Savanna and glade vegetation of Turkey Mountain, Arkansas: effects of a single prescribed burn. In: Warwick, Charles, ed. 15th North American prairie conference: Proceedings; 1996 October 23-26; St. Charles, IL. Bend, OR: The Natural Areas Association: 127-134. [30258]
  • 48. Li, Xiaojie; Baskin, Jerry M.; Baskin, Carol C. 1999. Seed morphology and physical dormancy of several North American Rhus species (Anacardiaceae). Seed Science Research. 9: 247-258. [40805]
  • 49. Loewenstein, Edward F.; Davidson, Kenneth R. 2002. Ecological restoration through silviculture--a savanna management demonstration area, Sinking Experimental Forest, Missouri. In: Outcalt, Kenneth W., ed. Proceedings, 11th biennial southern silvicultural research conference; 2001 March 20-22; Knoxville, TN. Gen. Tech. Rep. SRS-48. Asheville, NC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Southern Research Station: 490-494. [41519]
  • 61. Paulsell, Lee K. 1957. Effects of burning on Ozark hardwood timberlands. Res. Bull. 640. Columbia, MO: University of Missouri, College of Agriculture, Agricultural Experiment Station. 24 p. [11885]
  • 85. Went, F. W.; Juhren, G.; Juhren, M. C. 1952. Fire and biotic factors affecting germination. Ecology. 33(3): 351-364. [4919]

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Plant Response to Fire

Evans [19] reports that sumac (Rhus spp.) in general will increase in dominance with prescribed burning. Fragrant sumac will sprout from rhizomes and roots following fire, although it is considered a less prolific sprouter than other sumac species like winged sumac (R. copallinum) and smooth sumac [46,89]. Fragrant sumac has been observed to sprout in the 1st few years following fire, presumably in response to the increase in light reaching the forest floor [52]. Establishment of fragrant sumac after fire also relies on recruitment from seedlings [46].
  • 19. 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]
  • 46. Li, Xiaojie; Baskin, Jerry M.; Baskin, Carol C. 1999. Contrasting soil seed-bank dynamics in relation to local recruitment modes in two clonal shrubs, Rhus aromatica Ait. and R. glabra L. (Anacardiaceae). The American Midland Naturalist. 142(2): 266-280. [46870]
  • 52. McCarty, Ken. 1998. Landscape-scale restoration in Missouri savannas and woodlands. Restoration and Management Notes. 16(1): 22-32. [47308]
  • 89. 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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Broad-scale Impacts of Fire

Perennating buds on roots and rhizomes are protected by soil and may allow fragrant sumac to resprout following fire [24,49,52,56,90].
  • 24. Gilbert, Elizabeth F. 1966. Structure and development of sumac clones. The American Midland Naturalist. 75(2): 432-445. [22424]
  • 49. Loewenstein, Edward F.; Davidson, Kenneth R. 2002. Ecological restoration through silviculture--a savanna management demonstration area, Sinking Experimental Forest, Missouri. In: Outcalt, Kenneth W., ed. Proceedings, 11th biennial southern silvicultural research conference; 2001 March 20-22; Knoxville, TN. Gen. Tech. Rep. SRS-48. Asheville, NC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Southern Research Station: 490-494. [41519]
  • 52. McCarty, Ken. 1998. Landscape-scale restoration in Missouri savannas and woodlands. Restoration and Management Notes. 16(1): 22-32. [47308]
  • 56. Nantel, Patrick; Gagnon, Daniel. 1999. Variability in the dynamics of northern peripheral versus southern populations of two clonal plant species, Helianthus divaricatus and Rhus aromatica. Journal of Ecology. 87(5): 748-760. [46868]
  • 90. Wright, Henry A.; Bailey, Arthur W.; Thompson, Rita P. 1978. The role and use of fire in the Great Plains: A-state-of-the-art-review. In: Prairie prescribed burning symposium and workshop: Proceedings; 1978 April 25-28; Jamestown, ND. [Place of publication unknown]: The Wildlife Society, North Dakota Chapter: VIII-1 to VIII-29. On file with: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory, Missoula, MT. [13614]

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Immediate Effect of Fire

More info for the terms: surface fire, top-kill

Stems of fragrant sumac are susceptible to top-kill or complete mortality caused by fire, and even low-severity surface fire will kill stems [35,58,61].
  • 35. Jenkins, Michael A.; Jenkins, Sean E. 1996. Savanna and glade vegetation of Turkey Mountain, Arkansas: effects of a single prescribed burn. In: Warwick, Charles, ed. 15th North American prairie conference: Proceedings; 1996 October 23-26; St. Charles, IL. Bend, OR: The Natural Areas Association: 127-134. [30258]
  • 58. Nuzzo, Victoria A.; McClain, William; Strole, Todd. 1996. Fire impact on groundlayer flora in a sand forest: 1990--1994. The American Midland Naturalist. 136(2): 207-221. [27303]
  • 61. Paulsell, Lee K. 1957. Effects of burning on Ozark hardwood timberlands. Res. Bull. 640. Columbia, MO: University of Missouri, College of Agriculture, Agricultural Experiment Station. 24 p. [11885]

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Post-fire Regeneration

More info for the terms: adventitious, geophyte, ground residual colonizer, rhizome, secondary colonizer, shrub

POSTFIRE REGENERATION STRATEGY [77]:
Small shrub, adventitious bud/root crown
Rhizomatous shrub, rhizome in soil
Geophyte, growing points deep in soil
Ground residual colonizer (on-site, initial community)
Secondary colonizer (on-site or off-site seed sources)
  • 77. Stickney, Peter F. 1989. FEIS postfire regeneration workshop--April 12: Seral origin of species comprising secondary plant succession in Northern Rocky Mountain forests. 10 p. Unpublished draft on file at: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory, Missoula, MT. [20090]

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Fire Ecology

Fire adaptations: Fragrant sumac sprouts after fire from roots and rhizomes [24,52,56,68,90].  Seedling establishment can occur from banked seed [46] or from seed disseminated by birds or mammals [45]. Seedling establishment of fragrant sumac may be prolific in the first 1 or 2 years after fire or other disturbance [49,56].

FIRE REGIMES: As of this writing (2005), there are no published fire history studies on fragrant sumac-dominated communities.

The following table provides fire return intervals for plant communities and ecosystems where fragrant sumac occurs. For further information regarding FIRE REGIMES and fire ecology of communities and ecosystems where fragrant sumac is found, see the FEIS species reviews for the plant community or ecosystem dominants listed below:

Community or Ecosystem Dominant Species Fire Return Interval Range (years)
maple-beech-birch Acer-Fagus-Betula > 1,000
silver maple-American elm Acer saccharinum-Ulmus americana < 35 to 200
sugar maple Acer saccharum > 1,000 [84]
bluestem prairie Andropogon gerardii var. gerardii-Schizachyrium scoparium 40,62]
sugarberry-America elm-green ash Celtis laevigata-Ulmus americana-Fraxinus pennsylvanica < 35 to 200
beech-sugar maple Fagus spp.-Acer saccharum > 1,000 [84]
juniper-oak savanna Juniperus ashei-Quercus virginiana < 35
Ashe juniper Juniperus ashei 62]
cedar glades Juniperus virginiana 3-22 [27,62]
shortleaf pine Pinus echinata 2-15
shortleaf pine-oak Pinus echinata-Quercus spp. < 10
loblolly-shortleaf pine Pinus taeda-P. echinata 10 to < 35
Virginia pine-oak Pinus virginiana-Quercus spp. 10 to < 35
oak-hickory Quercus-Carya spp. < 35
northeastern oak-pine Quercus-Pinus spp. 10 to < 35
southeastern oak-pine Quercus-Pinus spp. < 10
white oak-black oak-northern red oak Quercus alba-Q. velutina-Q. rubra < 35
bur oak Quercus macrocarpa < 10 [84]
oak savanna Quercus macrocarpa/Andropogon gerardii-Schizachyrium scoparium 2-14 [62,84]
post oak-blackjack oak Quercus stellata-Q. marilandica < 10
black oak Quercus velutina < 35 [84]
little bluestem-grama prairie Schizachyrium scoparium-Bouteloua spp. 62]
  • 24. Gilbert, Elizabeth F. 1966. Structure and development of sumac clones. The American Midland Naturalist. 75(2): 432-445. [22424]
  • 27. Guyette, Richard; McGinnes, E. A., Jr. 1982. Fire history of an Ozark glade in Missouri. Transactions, Missouri Academy of Science. 16: 85-93. [5170]
  • 45. Li, Xiaojie; Baskin, Jerry M.; Baskin, Carol C. 1999. Contrasting dispersal phenologies in two fleshy-fruited congeneric shrubs, Rhus aromatica Ait. and Rhus glabra L. (Anacardiaceae). Canadian Journal of Botany. 77(7): 976-988. [46873]
  • 46. Li, Xiaojie; Baskin, Jerry M.; Baskin, Carol C. 1999. Contrasting soil seed-bank dynamics in relation to local recruitment modes in two clonal shrubs, Rhus aromatica Ait. and R. glabra L. (Anacardiaceae). The American Midland Naturalist. 142(2): 266-280. [46870]
  • 49. Loewenstein, Edward F.; Davidson, Kenneth R. 2002. Ecological restoration through silviculture--a savanna management demonstration area, Sinking Experimental Forest, Missouri. In: Outcalt, Kenneth W., ed. Proceedings, 11th biennial southern silvicultural research conference; 2001 March 20-22; Knoxville, TN. Gen. Tech. Rep. SRS-48. Asheville, NC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Southern Research Station: 490-494. [41519]
  • 52. McCarty, Ken. 1998. Landscape-scale restoration in Missouri savannas and woodlands. Restoration and Management Notes. 16(1): 22-32. [47308]
  • 56. Nantel, Patrick; Gagnon, Daniel. 1999. Variability in the dynamics of northern peripheral versus southern populations of two clonal plant species, Helianthus divaricatus and Rhus aromatica. Journal of Ecology. 87(5): 748-760. [46868]
  • 62. Paysen, Timothy E.; Ansley, R. James; Brown, James K.; [and others]. 2000. Fire in western shrubland, woodland, and grassland ecosystems. In: Brown, James K.; Smith, Jane Kapler, eds. Wildland fire in ecosystems: Effects of fire on flora. Gen. Tech. Rep. RMRS-GTR-42-volume 2. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station: 121-159. [36978]
  • 68. Rowe, D. Bradley; Blazich, Frank A. 2002. Rhus L.: sumac. In: Bonner, Franklin T., tech. coord. Woody plant seed manual, [Online]. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service (Producer). Available: http://wpsm.net/Rhus.pdf [2004, March 29]. [47243]
  • 84. Wade, Dale D.; Brock, Brent L.; Brose, Patrick H.; [and others]. 2000. Fire in eastern ecosystems. In: Brown, James K.; Smith, Jane Kapler, eds. Wildland fire in ecosystems: Effects of fire on flora. Gen. Tech. Rep. RMRS-GTR-42-vol. 2. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station: 53-96. [36983]
  • 90. Wright, Henry A.; Bailey, Arthur W.; Thompson, Rita P. 1978. The role and use of fire in the Great Plains: A-state-of-the-art-review. In: Prairie prescribed burning symposium and workshop: Proceedings; 1978 April 25-28; Jamestown, ND. [Place of publication unknown]: The Wildlife Society, North Dakota Chapter: VIII-1 to VIII-29. On file with: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory, Missoula, MT. [13614]

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Successional Status

More info on this topic.

Fragrant sumac is usually discussed as a pioneering species which invades disturbed sites, fencerows, roadsides, abandoned fields and forest and grassland borders [19,63,68]. Fragrant sumac is considered to be shade intolerant or to have a low shade tolerance [51].  Although it does occur in many different forested communities, the specific sites are often along edges of openings or in stands where canopy closure has not yet occurred.  It may be considered more of a late-successional species in the shrub-dominated communities in limestone and dolomite glades [7,22,57].
  • 19. 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]
  • 22. Freeman, Craig C. 1998. The flora of Konza Prairie: A historical review and contemporary patterns. In: Knapp, Alan K.; Briggs, John M.; Hartnett, David C.; Collins, Scott L., eds. Grassland dynamics: Long-term ecological research in tallgrass prairie. New York: Oxford University Press: 69-80. [45919]
  • 51. Martin, William H. 1990. The role and history of fire in the Daniel Boone National Forest. Final Report. Winchester, KY: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Daniel Boone National Forest. 131 p. [43630]
  • 57. Nelson, Paul; Ladd, Douglas. 1983. Preliminary report on the identification, distribution and classification of Missouri glades. In: Kucera, Clair L., ed. Proceedings, 7th North American prairie conference; 1980 August 4-6; Springfield, MO. Columbia, MO: University of Missouri: 59-76. [3195]
  • 63. Quarterman, Elsie. 1950. Major plant communities of Tennessee cedar glades. Ecology. 31: 234-254. [11129]
  • 68. Rowe, D. Bradley; Blazich, Frank A. 2002. Rhus L.: sumac. In: Bonner, Franklin T., tech. coord. Woody plant seed manual, [Online]. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service (Producer). Available: http://wpsm.net/Rhus.pdf [2004, March 29]. [47243]
  • 7. Baskin, Jerry M.; Webb, David H.; Baskin, Carol C. 1995. A floristic plant ecology study of the limestone glades of northern Alabama. Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club. 122(3): 226-242. [46869]

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Regeneration Processes

More info for the terms: adventitious, competition, density, frequency, layering, litter, polygamodioecious, shrub

Fragrant sumac reproduces from seeds and by sprouting and layering [46,52,56].

Breeding system: Fragrant sumac is polygamodioecious [26].

Pollination: Fragrant sumac is pollinated primarily by bees [68].

Seed production: Fragrant sumac produces 1-seeded drupes composed of a papery exocarp, a pulpy mesocarp, and a stony endocarp which encloses the true seed [47]. Brinkman [13] noted that the species produces "copious quantities" of seeds.

Seed dispersal: Seeds of fragrant sumac are spread primarily by birds and small mammals [13,45].

Seed banking: Fragrant sumac can form a persistent soil seed bank with some seeds remaining viable for 1-5 years after being incorporated into the soil profile. Viability is greatly reduced within 5 years due to a gradual loss of seed-coat impermeability. Seed bank may be replenished slowly due to herbivory of the fruits; animals eat the fruits and remove them from the site. [46].

Germination: Seed dormancy in fragrant sumac is caused by a hard, impermeable seed coat and a dormant embryo [30,9,45). Seeds must undergo maturation desiccation and cold stratification before they will germinate; desiccation must occur before cold stratification [47]. In laboratory tests, seeds that were not cold-stratified showed 0-15% germination, whereas stratified seeds showed germination of greater than 90% [13,31,47]. High temperatures have little to no effect in breaking seed dormancy in fragrant sumac [47,48].

Seedling establishment/growth: In grassland communities, seedlings of all shrub species compete directly with grasses for water and nutrients and many will die from this competition [89]. Seedling establishment of fragrant sumac may be prolific in the 1st year after fire or other disturbance [56]. Results of seed germination tests suggest seedling establishment following fire is probably the result of increased seedling survival due to the removal of litter and light competition, and not the result of enhanced germination from high temperatures. [48,85]. Seedlings rarely become established in dense thickets of fragrant sumac [56].

Asexual regeneration: Fragrant sumac reproduces clonally by sprouting from the roots and rhizomes [68]. Sprouting can occur from rhizomes as far as 12-16 feet (3.7-4.6 m) away from the original stem [24].  Fragrant sumac has been observed to sprout and form small thickets in the 1st few years following fire [52,56,90]. Fragrant sumac's sprouting ability also allows it to spread into newly developed soil mats in rocky areas and the openings along the edges of forested glades [38,63]. The density and frequency of new sprouts is reduced by frequent or recurring disturbance [61]. Li and others [46] consider it a "weak sprouter", especially when compared to other sumac species such as smooth sumac (R. glabra).

Layering occurs in fragrant sumac when stems grow into contact with the ground and develop adventitious roots.  New sprouts develop from the new roots bases and repeat the cycle of growth, layering and sprouting [56].

  • 13. 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]
  • 24. Gilbert, Elizabeth F. 1966. Structure and development of sumac clones. The American Midland Naturalist. 75(2): 432-445. [22424]
  • 26. Great Plains Flora Association. 1986. Flora of the Great Plains. Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas. 1392 p. [1603]
  • 31. Heit, C. E. 1967. Propagation from seed. Part 7: Germinating six hardseeded groups. American Nurseryman. 125(12): 10-12; 37-41; 44-45. [1120]
  • 38. Kirk, Donald A. 1994. Stone Road alvar, Pelee Island: management of an unusual oak savannah community type in the western Lake Erie archipelago. In: Wickett, Robert G.; Lewis, Patricia Dolan; Woodliffe, Allen; Pratt, Paul, eds. Spirit of the land, our prairie legacy: Proceedings, 13th North American prairie conference; 1992 August 6-9; Windsor, ON. Windsor, ON: Windsor Department of Parks and Recreation: 33-43. [24675]
  • 45. Li, Xiaojie; Baskin, Jerry M.; Baskin, Carol C. 1999. Contrasting dispersal phenologies in two fleshy-fruited congeneric shrubs, Rhus aromatica Ait. and Rhus glabra L. (Anacardiaceae). Canadian Journal of Botany. 77(7): 976-988. [46873]
  • 46. Li, Xiaojie; Baskin, Jerry M.; Baskin, Carol C. 1999. Contrasting soil seed-bank dynamics in relation to local recruitment modes in two clonal shrubs, Rhus aromatica Ait. and R. glabra L. (Anacardiaceae). The American Midland Naturalist. 142(2): 266-280. [46870]
  • 47. Li, Xiaojie; Baskin, Jerry M.; Baskin, Carol C. 1999. Seed morphology and physical dormancy of several North American Rhus species (Anacardiaceae). Seed Science Research. 9: 247-258. [40805]
  • 48. Li, Xiaojie; Baskin, Jerry M.; Baskin, Carol C. 1999. Seed morphology and physical dormancy of several North American Rhus species (Anacardiaceae). Seed Science Research. 9: 247-258. [40805]
  • 52. McCarty, Ken. 1998. Landscape-scale restoration in Missouri savannas and woodlands. Restoration and Management Notes. 16(1): 22-32. [47308]
  • 56. Nantel, Patrick; Gagnon, Daniel. 1999. Variability in the dynamics of northern peripheral versus southern populations of two clonal plant species, Helianthus divaricatus and Rhus aromatica. Journal of Ecology. 87(5): 748-760. [46868]
  • 61. Paulsell, Lee K. 1957. Effects of burning on Ozark hardwood timberlands. Res. Bull. 640. Columbia, MO: University of Missouri, College of Agriculture, Agricultural Experiment Station. 24 p. [11885]
  • 63. Quarterman, Elsie. 1950. Major plant communities of Tennessee cedar glades. Ecology. 31: 234-254. [11129]
  • 68. Rowe, D. Bradley; Blazich, Frank A. 2002. Rhus L.: sumac. In: Bonner, Franklin T., tech. coord. Woody plant seed manual, [Online]. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service (Producer). Available: http://wpsm.net/Rhus.pdf [2004, March 29]. [47243]
  • 85. Went, F. W.; Juhren, G.; Juhren, M. C. 1952. Fire and biotic factors affecting germination. Ecology. 33(3): 351-364. [4919]
  • 89. 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]
  • 90. Wright, Henry A.; Bailey, Arthur W.; Thompson, Rita P. 1978. The role and use of fire in the Great Plains: A-state-of-the-art-review. In: Prairie prescribed burning symposium and workshop: Proceedings; 1978 April 25-28; Jamestown, ND. [Place of publication unknown]: The Wildlife Society, North Dakota Chapter: VIII-1 to VIII-29. On file with: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory, Missoula, MT. [13614]

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Growth Form (according to Raunkiær Life-form classification)

More info on this topic.

More info for the terms: geophyte, phanerophyte

RAUNKIAER [65] LIFE FORM:
Phanerophyte
Geophyte
  • 65. Raunkiaer, C. 1934. The life forms of plants and statistical plant geography. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 632 p. [2843]

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Life Form

More info for the term: shrub

Shrub

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Life History and Behavior

Cyclicity

Phenology

More info on this topic.

More info for the term: shrub

Fragrant sumac is a deciduous shrub with a typical winter dormancy. Flowers appear in mid-spring (March-May) with leaf expansion occurring at the same time or shortly thereafter [34]. Fruit maturation is synchronous and occurs about 8-9 weeks after flowering, which in most areas is early to mid-June [44,46,47]. Because flower inflorescences are terminal, no further branch growth occurs along that axis. Branch growth each following year must arise from buds formed below the inflorescence.  New twigs grow at an angle with the twig of the previous year [24].
  • 24. Gilbert, Elizabeth F. 1966. Structure and development of sumac clones. The American Midland Naturalist. 75(2): 432-445. [22424]
  • 34. Hunter, Carl G. 1989. Trees, shrubs, and vines of Arkansas. Little Rock, AR: The Ozark Society Foundation. 207 p. [21266]
  • 44. Li, Xiaojie; Baskin, Jerry M.; Baskin, Carol C. 1999. Comparative morphology and physiology of fruit and seed development in the two shrubs Rhus aromatica and R. glabra (Anacardiacea). American Journal of Botany. 86(9): 1217-1225. [30655]
  • 46. Li, Xiaojie; Baskin, Jerry M.; Baskin, Carol C. 1999. Contrasting soil seed-bank dynamics in relation to local recruitment modes in two clonal shrubs, Rhus aromatica Ait. and R. glabra L. (Anacardiaceae). The American Midland Naturalist. 142(2): 266-280. [46870]
  • 47. Li, Xiaojie; Baskin, Jerry M.; Baskin, Carol C. 1999. Seed morphology and physical dormancy of several North American Rhus species (Anacardiaceae). Seed Science Research. 9: 247-258. [40805]

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Rhus aromatica

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Rhus aromatica

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 2
Specimens with Barcodes: 3
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

Canada

Rounded National Status Rank: N5 - Secure

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: N4 - Apparently Secure

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure

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The PLANTS database [79] lists fragrant sumac as having protection status in three states:

Connecticut: R. a. - special concern
Indiana: R. a. var. arenaria - threatened
Ohio: R. a. var. arenaria - presumed extirpated

In addition, the Wisconsin Botanical Information System [80] currently lists fragrant sumac as being a species of special concern.

  • 79. U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Resource Conservation Service. 2005. PLANTS database (2004), [Online]. Available: http://plants.usda.gov/. [34262]
  • 80. University of Wisconsin-Madison. 1999. Rhus aromatica. In: Wisconsin Botanical Information System, Wisflora-vascular plant species, [Online]. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin (Producer). Available: http://www.botany.wisc.edu/wisflora/ [2005, January 29]. [51106]

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Status

Please consult the PLANTS Web site and your State Department of Natural Resources for this plant’s current status, such as, state noxious status and wetland indicator values.

Public Domain

USDA NRCS National Plant Data Center & the Biota of North America Program

Source: USDA NRCS PLANTS Database

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Management

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

These plant materials are readily available from commercial 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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Fragrant sumac reportedly sprouts vigorously after fire in the southern Great Plains, and the primary mode of colonization after disturbance is through sprouting from the adventitious-bud root crown.

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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Cultivation

The preference is full or partial sun, dry conditions, and soil that is sandy or rocky. However, this shrub will adapt to mesic conditions with fertile loamy soil if there is not too much competition from other species of plants.
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Economic Uses

Uses: MEDICINE/DRUG

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Other uses and values

More info for the term: shrub

Sumac species in general are valuable for erosion control because of their extensive root systems [68]. The showy fall foliage and drought hardiness of fragrant sumac make it a desirable shrub for ornamental and windbreak plantings [87].

Native peoples are reported to have made a drink from the fruits of fragrant sumac [78]. Fruits and leaves are reported to have a variety of herbal pharmacological uses: analgesic, antidiarrheal, burn dressing, cold remedy, dietary aid, diuretic, toothache remedy, reproduction aid, and gynecological aid [37].

  • 37. Kartesz, John T.; Meacham, Christopher A. 1999. Synthesis of the North American flora (Windows Version 1.0), [CD-ROM]. Available: North Carolina Botanical Garden. In cooperation with the Nature Conservancy, Natural Resources Conservation Service, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service [2001, January 16]. [36715]
  • 68. Rowe, D. Bradley; Blazich, Frank A. 2002. Rhus L.: sumac. In: Bonner, Franklin T., tech. coord. Woody plant seed manual, [Online]. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service (Producer). Available: http://wpsm.net/Rhus.pdf [2004, March 29]. [47243]
  • 78. Strausbaugh, P. D.; Core, Earl L. 1977. Flora of West Virginia. 2nd ed. Morgantown, WV: Seneca Books, Inc. 1079 p. [23213]
  • 87. White, Scott D.; Pantoja, Michael. 1995. Fire management for rare plants and animals. In: Keeley, Jon F.; Scott, Tom. Brushfires in California: ecology and resource management: Proceedings; 1994 May 6-7; Irvine, CA. Fairfield, WA: International Association of Wildland Fire: 41-43. [43318]

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Value for rehabilitation of disturbed sites

More info for the term: reclamation

Fragrant sumac is well suited for revegetation and reclamation of eroded, disturbed, or depleted sites because of its ability to tolerate poor, dry, rocky soils, and its ability to grow at a low ph (4.5) [68,82]. The species has not been tested on mine spoils throughout the entire mining region in the eastern United States, but it has been observed "volunteering" on mine soils in many locations. At 1 test site in West Virginia, 15-year-old plantings of fragrant sumac had successfully developed into open stands with a height of 3 to 4 feet (0.9-1.2 m) [82].

Fragrant sumac was first cultivated in the United States in 1759 [13]. It can be propagated vegetatively by rooting stem cuttings or by field-planting stem cuttings; the latter method is the one used in most commercial operations [68].

Propagation from seed is also an effective method for fragrant sumac. Fruits can be collected in late fall and early winter, and seeds can be cleaned or sown with pieces of the fruit wall still attached. Flotation can be used to separate out empty seeds [13]. Because seed dormancy in fragrant sumac is caused by both a hard seed coat and a dormant embryo, both scarification and stratification are required before seeds will germinate [31,47]. Scarification with sulfuric acid for 1 hour at 68 degrees Fahrenheit (20 oC) followed by cold stratification at 33.8 to 39.2 degrees Fahrenheit (1-4 oC) for 1 to 3 months is recommended for fragrant sumac. If seeds will be sown in the fall, scarification is required, but the artificial cold stratification can be skipped as it will be achieved naturally in the soil environment [68]. Li and others [48] found that soaking the seeds in a Gibberellic acid solution at a concentration of 500 or 1000 mg/liter achieved the same results as the cold stratification treatment. Li and others [47] found that the germination of fragrant sumac seeds is rather insensitive to light and temperature, although, their study did show that the best germination occurred with a treatment that alternated a 12-hour photoperiod at 86 degrees Fahrenheit (30 oC) with a 12-hour dark period at 59 degrees Fahrenheit (15 oC) .

  • 13. 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]
  • 31. 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. Li, Xiaojie; Baskin, Jerry M.; Baskin, Carol C. 1999. Seed morphology and physical dormancy of several North American Rhus species (Anacardiaceae). Seed Science Research. 9: 247-258. [40805]
  • 48. Li, Xiaojie; Baskin, Jerry M.; Baskin, Carol C. 1999. Seed morphology and physical dormancy of several North American Rhus species (Anacardiaceae). Seed Science Research. 9: 247-258. [40805]
  • 68. Rowe, D. Bradley; Blazich, Frank A. 2002. Rhus L.: sumac. In: Bonner, Franklin T., tech. coord. Woody plant seed manual, [Online]. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service (Producer). Available: http://wpsm.net/Rhus.pdf [2004, March 29]. [47243]
  • 82. Vogel, Willis G. 1981. A guide for revegetating coal mine soils in the eastern United States. Gen. Tech. Rep. NE-68. Broomall, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northeastern Forest Experiment Station. 190 p. [15576]

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Importance to Livestock and Wildlife

More info for the term: cover

Flowers, fruit, foliage, and twigs of fragrant sumac are utilized by a variety of bird and animal species. Birds reported to feed on fruits of fragrant sumac include thrushes, robins, bluebirds, thrashers, catbirds, mockingbirds, crows, turkeys, flickers, and bobwhite quail [36,45]. Because fragrant sumac fruit matures in early summer, fruit is largely utilized by resident bird populations, and not so much by migratory populations [45]. White-tailed deer have been observed feeding on twigs and fruits of fragrant sumac [17,45]. The species is listed as a preferred winter browse species for white-tailed deer in the Missouri Ozarks [55], but not a preferred species in eastern Kansas [81]. Small mammals reported to feed on fruits of fragrant sumac include raccoons, squirrels, and opossums [34]. Brown thrashers have been observed nesting in fragrant sumac in the Flint Hills of northeastern Kansas [16].

Palatability/nutritional value: Seeds of fragrant sumac contain a high percentage of oil, and the energy content is 5,304 calories/g [36]. The fruit may be a source of easily digestible, quick energy, but the small size of the seeds limits the food value of the seeds [76].

Cover value: The thicket-forming growth habit of fragrant sumac makes it a good cover species for birds and small mammals [68,87].

  • 16. Cavitt, John F. 1999. Effects of prairie fire and grazing on brown thrasher nest predation. In: Springer, J. T., ed. The central Nebraska loess hills prairie: Proceedings of the 16th North American prairie conference; 1998 July 26-29; Kearney, NE. No. 16. Kearney, NE: University of Nebraska: 112-119. [46817]
  • 17. Crawford, Hewlette S.; Kucera, Clair L.; Ehrenreich, John H. 1969. Ozark range and wildlife plants. Agric. Handb. 356. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. 236 p. [18602]
  • 34. Hunter, Carl G. 1989. Trees, shrubs, and vines of Arkansas. Little Rock, AR: The Ozark Society Foundation. 207 p. [21266]
  • 36. Johnson, Stephen R.; Robel, Robert J. 1968. Caloric values of seeds from four range sites in northeastern Kansas. Ecology. 49(5): 956-961. [46872]
  • 45. Li, Xiaojie; Baskin, Jerry M.; Baskin, Carol C. 1999. Contrasting dispersal phenologies in two fleshy-fruited congeneric shrubs, Rhus aromatica Ait. and Rhus glabra L. (Anacardiaceae). Canadian Journal of Botany. 77(7): 976-988. [46873]
  • 55. Murphy, Dean A. 1970. Deer range appraisal in the Midwest. In: White-tailed deer in the Midwest: Proceedings of a symposium, 30th midwest fish and wildlife conference; 1968 December 9; Columbus, OH. Res. Pap. NC-39. St. Paul, MN: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, North Central Forest Experiment Station: 2-10. [13667]
  • 68. Rowe, D. Bradley; Blazich, Frank A. 2002. Rhus L.: sumac. In: Bonner, Franklin T., tech. coord. Woody plant seed manual, [Online]. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service (Producer). Available: http://wpsm.net/Rhus.pdf [2004, March 29]. [47243]
  • 76. Stapanian, Martin A. 1982. Evolution of fruiting strategies among fleshy-fruited plant species of eastern Kansas. Ecology. 63(5): 1422-1431. [12142]
  • 81. van der Hoek, Dirk-Jan; Knapp, Alan K.; Briggs, John M.; Bokdam, Jan. 2002. White-tailed deer browsing on six shrub species of tallgrass prairie. Great Plains Research. 12(1): 141-156. [47326]
  • 87. White, Scott D.; Pantoja, Michael. 1995. Fire management for rare plants and animals. In: Keeley, Jon F.; Scott, Tom. Brushfires in California: ecology and resource management: Proceedings; 1994 May 6-7; Irvine, CA. Fairfield, WA: International Association of Wildland Fire: 41-43. [43318]

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Uses

Wildlife: The fruit is an important winter food for birds, including turkey, ruffed grouse, robins, and flickers, and for various small mammals (e.g., raccoon, opossum, chipmunk). The foliage is relatively unpalatable to most species of wildlife and domestic livestock. Thickets of fragrant sumac provide cover for many species of birds and small mammals.

Conservation: Fragrant sumac is not widely used for landscape plantings, probably because of its relatively small size, but it is used as a ground cover, especially on banks. The plants are hardy and can grow in sun or partial shade. The main ornamental feature is the orange to red fall foliage color. Several cultivars have been selected – mostly for variation in growth form. Fragrant sumac also has been used for rehabilitating disturbed sites such as banks, cuts, and fills.

Ethnobotanic: American Indians made a tart drink (“Indian lemonade”) from the ripe fruits of fragrant sumac (larger-fruited Rhus species provide a larger quantity of the same substance). The bark of all sumacs has been used as an astringent and leaves and bark can be used for tanning leather because of the high tannin content. Various Indian tribes have used fragrant sumac in treatment for various illnesses and health problems. The leaves, mixed with tobacco, were used as a smoking mixture.

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Wikipedia

Rhus aromatica

Rhus aromatica (also known as Fragrant Sumac) is a plant species in the family Anacardiaceae native to Canada and the United States.

Fragrant sumac is a woody plant that can grow to around 2 meters tall. It produces yellow flowers in clusters before anthesis. Hairy red drupes are produced, which can be brewed into a tea.

The leaves and stems of fragrant sumac have a citrus fragrance when crushed, and it inhabits mostly uplands areas, while poison ivy has no odor and can inhabit various habitats.

References

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Names and Taxonomy

Taxonomy

More info for the term: fern

The scientific name of fragrant sumac is Rhus aromatica Ait. (Anacardiaceae) [25,26,37,69,78,83]. Based on differences in geographic distribution, leaf
size and shape, and pubescence of stems, leaves and fruits, 3 varieties are
most often recognized [25,37,54]:


R. a. var. arenaria (Green) Fern. [11,25,37,54]

R. a. var. aromatica

R. a. var. serotina (Greene) Rehd. [25,37,54]


Although most florae recognize 3 varieties of fragrant sumac listed above, a 4th
variety, R. a. var. illinoensis (Greene) Rehd., is recognized
by some authors [25,54].


Hybrids: Fragrant sumac may hybridize with skunkbush sumac (R. trilobata) [4].
  • 11. Braun, E. Lucy. 1961. The woody plants of Ohio. Columbus, OH: Ohio State University Press. 362 p. [12914]
  • 25. Gleason, Henry A.; Cronquist, Arthur. 1991. Manual of vascular plants of northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. 2nd ed. New York: New York Botanical Garden. 910 p. [20329]
  • 26. Great Plains Flora Association. 1986. Flora of the Great Plains. Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas. 1392 p. [1603]
  • 37. Kartesz, John T.; Meacham, Christopher A. 1999. Synthesis of the North American flora (Windows Version 1.0), [CD-ROM]. Available: North Carolina Botanical Garden. In cooperation with the Nature Conservancy, Natural Resources Conservation Service, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service [2001, January 16]. [36715]
  • 4. 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]
  • 54. Mohlenbrock, Robert H. 1986. [Revised edition]. Guide to the vascular flora of Illinois. Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois University Press. 507 p. [17383]
  • 69. Seymour, Frank Conkling. 1982. The flora of New England. 2d ed. Phytologia Memoirs 5. Plainfield, NJ: Harold N. Moldenke and Alma L. Moldenke. 611 p. [7604]
  • 78. Strausbaugh, P. D.; Core, Earl L. 1977. Flora of West Virginia. 2nd ed. Morgantown, WV: Seneca Books, Inc. 1079 p. [23213]
  • 83. Voss, Edward G. 1985. Michigan flora. Part II. Dicots (Saururaceae--Cornaceae). Bull. 59. Bloomfield Hills, MI: Cranbrook Institute of Science; Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Herbarium. 724 p. [11472]

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Common Names

fragrant sumac

aromatic sumac

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