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Vick, Albert F. W.
Rhus typhina L.
Staghorn sumac, Velvet sumac
Synonym(s): Datisca hirta, Rhus hirta, Rhus typhina var. laciniata
USDA Symbol: RHTY
USDA Native Status: L48 (N), CAN (N)
The stag-horn sumac is a 15-30 ft., colony-forming, deciduous shrub with crooked, leaning trunks, picturesque branches and velvety twigs. Large, bright-green, pinnately-compound leaves become extremely colorful in early fall. On female plants, yellow-green flowers are followed by fuzzy, bright red berries in erect, pyramidal clusters which persist throughout winter. Staghorn Sumac reaches tree size more often than related species and commonly forms thickets. In winter, the bare, widely forking, stout, hairy twigs resemble deer antlers in velvet, hence the alternate common name.
Bloom InformationBloom Color: Red , Yellow , Green
Bloom Time: Jun , Jul
, WV Canada: NB
, QC Native Distribution:
E. Que. to MN,
s. to n. SC, AL, IL
& IA Native Habitat:
Dry uplands; old fields; hardwood forest edges
Growing ConditionsWater Use:
Low Light Requirement:
Sun , Part Shade , Shade Soil Moisture:
Dry Soil pH:
Circumneutral (pH 6.8-7.2) CaCO3 Tolerance:
High Soil Description:
Dry, rocky or gravelly soils. Conditions Comments:
Staghorn sumac is most effective when drifts or colonies, typical of natural settings, are allowed to establish. Colonies can be rejuvenated every few years by cutting them to the ground in mid-winter. Sumacs grow in dry waste areas, such as impossible slopes where even juniper struggle. They are fast growing, generally pest and disease-free, and drought-tolerant. Thin bark
makes sumac especially sensitive to lawn mowers and string trimmers. Wounding, however, triggers development of replacement sprouts. Colonies are often single-sexed, formed from a single, suckering parent. Only female plants produce flowers and berries. The berries are winter food for many upland gamebirds, songbirds, and large and small mammals.
Grown as an ornamental, especially a variety with dissected leaves, for the autumn foliage and showy fruit. Use Wildlife:
Berries are a preferred food source for ruffed grouse, ring-necked pheasant, eastern phoebe, common crow, northern mockingbird, gray catbird, American robin, wood thrush, hermit thrush, eastern bluebird and European starling. It is also used by over 30 other species, and since the fruit
hangs on throughout the winter, is another excellent emergency source of food. Honeybees are attracted to the flowers in spring. Use Food:
Indians made a lemonade-like drink from the crushed fruit
of this and related species. Use Other:
The tannin-rich fruit, bark
and leaves were used to tan hides. The leaves and fruits were boiled to make black ink, and the dried leaves were an ingredient in smoking mixtures. Conspicuous Flowers:
PropagationDescription: Easily propagated from early winter root divisions. Place root cuttings in flats of moist sand. Plant scarified and stratified seed 1/3-3/4 in. deep.
Seed Treatment: Acid scarify one to three hours, then stratify immediately for 30 days at 41 degrees.
Commercially Avail: yes
Mr. Smarty Plants says
Flowering and evergreen shrubs for landscape in Indiana
May 29, 2010
I live in Southern Indiana and we are getting ready to redesign our front landscape. Currently, we have some yews and other shrubs that are unruly and require a lot of pruning and care. My husband hat...
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October 21, 2009
Hi...Can you please identfy the tall, evergreen shrub with purple plum-colored foliage that I have noticed in winter locally?...Hope so, need he color! THX
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From the National Organizations Directory
According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is either on display or available from the following:
Delaware Nature Society
- Hockessin, DEMt. Cuba Center
- Hockessin, DE
Record Last Modified: 2013-09-07
Research By: TWC Staff