top of page


     "Perhaps no native plant is as flamboyant as smooth sumac in autumn, when large colonies create blankes of fluorescent yellows and reds along the highways and byways of America" -- Michael Dirr


     Sumacs may be among the most misunderstood of the native plants.  They often are seen along roadsides and thought of as weeds.  But their virtues can hardly be overstated.


     Sumacs have among the best of the fall foliage, and they are hugely popular among pollinators, with Monarchs and other butterflies, native bees, beetles and all manner of other flying things jockying for a shot at their yellow summer blossoms.  Sumacs also are a larval host to the delicately beautiful Red-banded Hairstreak.


     Females produce bright red and slightly hairy fruits in late summer, slightly resembling an upright clump of red grapes.


     Rhus glabra is thicket forming, and while this is a shrub that likes to spread and colonize, it also can be trained to grow as a single small tree. 


     Smooth Sumac makes a great natural screen and stand for stabilizing streambanks.  It is at home in dry, sunny spots.


     Fun fact: The fruits can be squeezed to quench thirst or make a drink similar to lemonade.


     1st Photo: Judy Gallagher

Sumac, Smooth

3 Gallons
    • Latin: Rhus glabra
    • Pollinator value: Very High
    • Height: 10-15 feet
    • Light: sun to light shade (best in sun)
    • Soil: dry
    • Bloom: yellowish-green May-July
    • Fruit: Red, fall edible drupe on female plants
    • Foliage: Deciduous, red fall; purple stems
    • Landscape: Specimen, hedge, garden, natural area, slope stabilization
    • Resistance: Rabbits, drought, Black Walnut
    • More information and native range here
bottom of page