Host an Event Volunteer Join Tickets

Support the plant database you love!


Plant Database

Search for native plants by scientific name, common name or family. If you are not sure what you are looking for, try the Combination Search or our Recommended Species lists.

Enter a Plant Name:
Or you can choose a plant family:
Toxicodendron vernix (Poison sumac)
Smith, R.W.

Toxicodendron vernix

Toxicodendron vernix (L.) Kuntze

Poison Sumac

Anacardiaceae (Sumac Family)

Synonym(s): Rhus vernix


USDA Native Status: L48 (N), CAN (N)

Poisonous yet attractive narrow-crowned shrub or small tree with waxy whitish berries and dramatic fall foliage.


From the Image Gallery

7 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Tree
Leaf Arrangement: Alternate
Leaf Complexity: Pinnate
Leaf Shape: Ovate
Leaf Margin: Entire
Fruit Type: Drupe
Size Notes: Height up to about 20 feet.
Fruit: White. 1/4-1/3 inch across.

Bloom Information

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


USA: AL , CT , DC , DE , FL , GA , IL , IN , KY , LA , MA , MD , ME , MI , MN , MS , NC , NH , NJ , NY , OH , PA , RI , SC , TN , TX , VA , VT , WI , WV
Canada: NS , ON , QC
Native Distribution: Extreme S. Quebec and Maine south to central Florida, west to E. Texas, and north to SE. Minnesota; mostly confined to Atlantic and Gulf coastal plains and Great Lakes region; to 1000' (305 m).
Native Habitat: Wet soil of swamps, bogs, seepage slopes, and frequently flooded areas; in shady hardwood forests.

Growing Conditions

Light Requirement: Part Shade , Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist , Wet


Use Wildlife: The fruit of Poison Sumac is not toxic to birds or animals and is consumed by many kinds of wildlife, such as bobwhites, pheasants, grouse, and rabbits, especially in winter, when other food is scarce.
Use Other: A black varnish can be made from the sap, as in a related Japanese species.
Warning: POISONOUS PARTS: All parts, in all seasons if plant sap contacted. Severe skin irritation upon contact. Symptoms include severe skin redness, itching, swelling, and blisters following direct or indirect contact. Toxic Principle: Urushiol. (Poisonous Plants of N.C.)
Attracts: Birds

Find Seed or Plants

View propagation protocol from Native Plants Network.

National Wetland Indicator Status

This information is derived from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Wetland Plant List, Version 3.1 (Lichvar, R.W. 2013. The National Wetland Plant List: 2013 wetland ratings. Phytoneuron 2013-49: 1-241). Click here for map of regions.

Web Reference

Webref 57 - Atlas of Florida Plants (2020) Institute for Systematic Botany
Webref 23 - Southwest Environmental Information Network (2009) SEINet - Arizona Chapter

From the Archive

Wildflower Newsletter 1985 VOL. 2, NO.3 - Greenhouse Assists Research, Wild color on the Hills, Director's Report, Clearin...

Additional resources

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


Record Modified: 2023-05-25
Research By: TWC Staff

Go back