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It is commonly found in North America and Africa, sumac trees grow abundantly in nature. They are also used for ornamental purposes, due to the attractive color fall foliage. Sumac trees belonging to the genus Rhus and Anacardiaceae family, is usually found as tall shrubs or small trees.
There are about 250 species of flowering plants known by the name of sumac. Are used for various purposes, as well as being an ideal for landscaping tree. However, the popularity of sumac tree is somewhat tarnished by some toxic species, which can cause severe skin irritation and rash, if touched. Many people simply prefer to stay away from sumac for this very reason. However, not all sumac trees cause allergic reactions. Therefore, it is always better to have a basic understanding of the characteristics of common sumac, including toxic.

Identification Tips

There are several species or varieties of which the most common are good tree poison sumac, staghorn sumac, poison oak, poison ivy and aromatic sumac.

Smooth sumac (Rhus glabra)

It grows to a height of about 10 feet. Bring alternately arranged leaves with serrated edges, which change to a crimson when autumn approaches. Smooth sumac produces small green bunches of flowers in spring, at the end of the year give way to bright red berries that last throughout the colder months.

Staghorn sumac (Rhus typhina)

This shrub has hairy stem and branches and toothed leaves. The tree is called staghorn due to its velvety hairy stem and branches, which resemble deer antlers. It can reach a height of about 18-34 feet. The plant is highly adaptable and can grow anywhere, but prefers to grow in dry soil. It produces clusters of red drupes tapered towards the end of the branches.

Poison sumac (Rhus vernix)

This is said to be one of the most toxic plants in the United States. This tree grows mainly in wetlands and swamps. Its leaves are smooth, wide and pinnately compound, with smooth margins. A very poisonous plant, contact with their leaves and stems can cause itching and inflammation in humans. Poison sumac has no hairs on the stem and branches and this can help to identify from the staghorn sumac. Another feature is that berries whitish gray.

Poison ivy (Toxicodendron radicans)

This plant is found throughout Canada and North America, and grow as shrubs and mulch heavily in all types of soils. The leaves have a smooth texture and are divided into three leaves, which grow in an alternating sequence on the vines, which are covered by a red veil. The flowers are pale yellow and white drupes. Like poison sumac, poison ivy can also cause severe allergic reactions in humans if they come into contact with any part of the plant.

Fragrant Sumac (Rhus aromatica)

This woody shrub found in abundance in cold mountainous regions of North America, and can easily be confused with his famous cousin, poison ivy. The distinguishing feature is the aromatic sumac is not wearing a petiole as poison ivy. The leaves of this tree has a citrus aroma, and the plant produces clusters of yellow flowers.

Sumac trees usually produce flowers in spikes or panicles, which can be 5-30 cm in length. The flowers are very small, but can come in a variety of colors, creamy white and slightly green to red. The plant bears fruit or berries in dense clusters of drupes, which are also called sumac bobs. The drupes or shaking of non-poisonous sumac are red, while the color of the shaking in the poisonous species is white. Another distinguishing feature is that the berries of sumac trees hanging down, while those of non-poisonous sumac grow upright.

Care Instructions

The main attraction is its foliage, making it ideal for gardening purposes. The tree can truly create one of the best shows in the fall when the leaves turn bright red. Sumac trees can grow in various types of soil, clay loam, sandy loam to clay. It can also be grown in medium loam. In general, sumac grow well in a planting site with well-drained soil that receives partial to full sun. Sumac are basically drought resistant plants. But still, regular watering is recommended, especially if planted in summer or rainy season low. At the same time, it is also important to avoid over-watering the plant, as this simply the roots will rot.

This tree usually do not require fertilization. But still, you can fertilize the plant after correctly assess the state of soil nutrients. In addition to proper watering and fertilizing, pruning is another important aspect of caring for the plants. Ideal for pruning time is spring. Remove all dead branches, together with those who cross each other, from spring to summer. Also prune suckers to keep the shape of the tree.

Sumac Tree Uses

Staghorn sumac berries are used to make lemonade. The leaves, fruits, flowers, branches and are used in the production of dyes.

The dried drupes of species of sumac, when certain soil become purple in color, and are used as a spice in the Mediterranean and Arabic cuisine.

Beekeepers use dried drupes as fuel bee smokers.

Native Americans mixed leaves and drupes sumac determined with the use of snuff and pipe the mixture into smoke.

Sumac trees are generally easy to prune and care, due to their small size. The plant requires minimal care and maintenance. In addition, the plant with its bright fall foliage can really enhance the look of a landscape. However, considering sumac as a garden plant, avoid poisonous species that are harmful to play.

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