Flowering Season: May or June through July or August
Elevation: 5,000 to 7,000 feet (.94-1.3 m)
Habitat Preferences: Common in rich soils, waste places, fields, roadsides and margins or borders of woods, often in oak and ponderosa pine woodlands; According to USDA, Fire Effects Information System, Smooth Sumac is a climax indicator in a number of shrub-grassland communities.
Recorded Range: Smooth Sumac is found throughout much of Canada, most of the Untied States and southward to northeastern Mexico (Tamaulipas).
North America & US County Distribution Map for Rhus glabra.
U.S. Weed Information: In North America Rhus glabra can be weedy or invasive according to the following authoritative sources: Weeds of Nebraska and the Great Plains. Plants included here may become weedy or invasive.
Invasive/Noxious Weed Information: No information available.
Wetland Indicator: No information available.
Threatened/Endangered Information: No information available.
Genus Information: In North America there are 18 for Rhus. Worldwide, The Plant List includes 131 accepted species names and a further 96 scientific names of infraspecific rank for genus Rhus. The genus Rhus was published by Carl Linnaeus in 1753.
In the Southwestern United States: Arizona and Texas each have 7 species of genus, California has 5 species, Nevada has 2 species, New Mexico has 5 species and Utah has 3 species. All data approximate and subject to revision.
Comments: Smooth Sumac is found throughout most of North America and well into Mexico. It is believed to be the only shrub or tree species native to all 48 contiguous states. This species of Rhus is often planted as a landscape plant because of it interesting green color throughout the summer and colorful red fall foliage and berry-like fruits. In some areas this species large decorative arrangements because the seeds remaining on stalks for lengthly periods of time.
Smooth Sumac is planted as a shelter-belt species and on depleted game ranges and is also used as "living" snow fences in areas where wildlife habitat improvement projects are objectives.
For a comprehensive thoroughly documented review of Rhus glabra see the USDA USFS Fire Effects Information System, or FEIS.
The twigs and leaves are browsed by white-tail and mule deer year round but more importantly in the winter period when other browse species are scarce. And also the fruits which are persistent throughout the fall and winter provide a ready food source, again, when other food sources are not available.
The showy flowers on Rhus glabra are visited regularly by birds such as hummingbirds and by nectar-feeding bats and insects. The palatable fruits are consumed by many species of birds and small mammals. For example, wild turkey, gray partridge and mourning dove feed on the fruits.
Special Value to Native Bees, Butterflies and Insects
The genus Rhus is from the ancient Greek name for Sumac "rhous". The genus Rhus was published by Carl Linnaeus in 1753.
The species epithet "glabra" is from the Latin definition for glaber, glabra, glabrum and means smooth or hairless.
Rhus glabra has been used for a multitude of purposes by North American indigenous peoples.
Apache, Chiricahua & Mescalero, Food, Special Food, Bark eaten by children as a delicacy.
Cherokee, Drug, Antiemetic, Red berries eaten for vomiting; burn Dressing, infusion poured over sunburn blisters; gynecological aid, infusion of bark taken 'to make human milk flow abundantly.'; urinary aid, red berries chewed for bedwetting, dye, black, berries used to make black dye.
Cheyenne, Other, Smoke Plant,Leaves mixed with tobacco and used for smoking.
Chippewa, Drug, Antidiarrheal, Decoction of 'growth which sometimes appears on the tree' used for dysentery; cold remedy
Infusion of roots taken for colds.
Flathead Drug, Tuberculosis Remedy, Infusion of green or dried branches taken for tuberculosis.
Iroquois Food, Unspecified, Sprouts eaten raw.
Lakota Other, Smoke Plant, Red, autumn leaves used to smoke.
Meskwaki, Food, Beverage, Berries and sugar used to make a cooling drink in the summer time and stored for winter use.