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Rhus typhina (Staghorn sumac) | NPIN
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Rhus typhina (Staghorn sumac)
Vick, Albert F. W.

Rhus typhina

Rhus typhina L.

Staghorn sumac, Velvet sumac

Anacardiaceae (Sumac Family)

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.

 

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Shrub , Tree
Leaf Retention: Deciduous
Leaf Arrangement: Alternate
Leaf Complexity: Pinnate
Leaf Shape: Lanceolate
Leaf Venation: Pinnate
Leaf Margin: Serrate
Breeding System: Flowers Unisexual , Dioecious
Size Notes: Height to 25 feet.
Leaf: Green above, pale below.
Autumn Foliage: yes
Fruit: Red and fuzzy. 1/8 inch diameter.
Size Class: 12-36 ft.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Red , Yellow , Green
Bloom Time: Jun , Jul

Distribution

USA: AL , CT , DC , DE , GA , IA , IL , IN , KS , KY , MA , MD , ME , MI , MN , MO , MS , NC , NH , NJ , NY , OH , PA , RI , SC , SD , TN , UT , VA , VT , WI , WV
Canada: NB , NS , ON , PE , QC
Native Distribution: E. Que. to MN, s. to n. SC, AL, IL & IA
Native Habitat: Dry uplands; old fields; hardwood forest edges

Growing Conditions

Water 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.

Benefit

Use Ornamental: 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: yes
Interesting Foliage: yes
Attracts: Birds

Value to Beneficial Insects

Special Value to Native Bees
Special Value to Honey Bees
Provides Nesting Materials/Structure for Native Bees
Supports Conservation Biological Control

This information was provided by the Pollinator Program at The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation.

Propagation

Description: 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...
view the full question and answer

Plant identfication
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
view the full question and answer

From the National Suppliers Directory

According to the inventory provided by Associate Suppliers, this plant is available at the following locations:

Edge of the Woods Native Plant Nursery - Orefield, PA
American Native Nursery - Quakertown, PA
Toadshade Wildflower Farm - Frenchtown, NJ

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:

Delaware Nature Society - Hockessin, DE
Mt. Cuba Center - Hockessin, DE

Bibliography

Bibref 1620 - Gardening with Native Plants of the South (Reprint Edition) (2009) Wasowski, S. with A. Wasowski
Bibref 946 - Gardening with Prairie Plants: How to Create Beautiful Native Landscapes (2002) Wasowski, Sally
Bibref 841 - Native Alternatives to Invasive Plants (2006) Burrell, C. C.

Search More Titles in Bibliography

Additional resources

USDA: Find Rhus typhina in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Rhus typhina in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Rhus typhina

Metadata

Record Modified: 2013-09-07
Research By: TWC Staff

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