Rhus copallinum L.
Winged Sumac, Shining Sumac, Flameleaf Sumac, Mountain Sumac, Dwarf Sumac, Wing-rib Sumac, Black Sumac, Upland Sumac
Anacardiaceae (Sumac Family)
Synonym(s): Rhus copallina
USDA Symbol: RHCO
Winged sumac is a large, deciduous shrub or small tree, 20-35 ft. tall, with short, crooked trunks and open branching. Glossy, dark-green, pinnately compound leaves turn reddish-purple in the fall. Yellowish-green flowers are succeeded by drooping, pubescent, pyramidal fruit clusters which turn dull red and persist through winter. It is easily distinguishable from other sumacs by the winged leaf axis and watery sap. Often forms thickets.
From the Image Gallery
Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Perennial
Leaf Retention: Deciduous
Leaf Arrangement: Alternate
Leaf Complexity: Pinnate
Leaf Shape: Lanceolate
Leaf Margin: Entire
Breeding System: Flowers Unisexual
Fruit Type: Drupe
Size Notes: 20-25'
Autumn Foliage: yes
Flower: Individual plants normally have only male or female flower, not both. Some plants may have both, some male flowers have non-functional pistils and some female flowers have non-functional stamens.
Fruit: Dark red. 1/8 inch long.
Size Class: 12-36 ft.
Bloom InformationBloom Color: Yellow , Green
Bloom Time: Jul , Aug
DistributionUSA: AL , AR , CT , DC , DE , FL , GA , IA , IL , IN , KS , KY , LA , MA , MD , ME , MI , MO , MS , NC , NE , NH , NJ , NY , OH , OK , PA , RI , SC , TN , TX , VA , VT , WI , WV
Native Distribution: S. ME to s. MI & MO, s. to FL & e. TX
Native Habitat: Dry hillsides; open woods; prairies; thickets Found in scrub on limestone outcrops and rocky slopes, prairies, plains, and in sandy woodlands
Growing ConditionsWater Use: Low
Light Requirement: Sun
Soil Moisture: Dry
CaCO3 Tolerance: Low
Soil Description: Rocky, poor soils.
Conditions Comments: Shining sumac is a very ornamental sumac. Because of its large, spreading habit, is not suited to small areas. Native sumacs are important wildlife plants, providing winter food for many upland gamebirds, songbirds, and large and small mammals. They are fast growing, generally pest and disease-free, and drought-tolerant. Colonies are often single-sexed, formed from a single, suckering parent. Only female plants produce berries, which are not as showy as those of R. typhina and R. glabra.
BenefitUse Ornamental: Winged Sumac is sometimes planted as an ornamental for its shiny leaves and showy fruit.
Use Wildlife: Winter food for many upland gamebirds, songbirds, and large and small mammals. Wildlife eat the fruit, and deer also browse the twigs.
Use Food: The sour fruit can be nibbled or made into a drink like lemonade.
Value to Beneficial InsectsSpecial 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.
PropagationDescription: Plant scarified seed 1/3-3/4 in. deep. Easily transplanted by division of colony. Semi-hardwood cutting taken in summer or fall will root.
Seed Treatment: Acid scarification for one to two hours
Commercially Avail: yes
Find Seed or Plants
View propagation protocol from Native Plants Network.
Mr. Smarty Plants says
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
National Wetland Indicator Status
From the National Organizations DirectoryAccording to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:
Crosby Arboretum - Picayune, MS
Stengl Biological Research Station - Smithville, TX
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department - Austin, TX
NPSOT - Williamson County Chapter - Georgetown, TX
Mt. Cuba Center - Hockessin, DE
BibliographyBibref 298 - Field Guide to Texas Trees (1999) Simpson, B.J.
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.
Bibref 318 - Native Texas Plants: Landscaping Region by Region (2002) Wasowski, S. & A. Wasowski
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Reslit 2629 - Interaction between algae and seed germination in tropical dune slack species: a facilitation process (1998) G. Vazquez, P. Moreno-Casasola, O. Barrera
This information was provided by the Florida WIldflower Foundation.
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From the ArchiveWildflower Newsletter 1985 VOL. 2, NO.3 - Greenhouse Assists Research, Wild color on the Hills, Director's Report, Clearin...
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Additional resourcesUSDA: Find Rhus copallinum in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Rhus copallinum in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Rhus copallinum
MetadataRecord Modified: 2015-11-05
Research By: TWC Staff