Winged Sumac, Black Sumac, Dwarf Sumac, Shining Sumac, Rhus copallina goes by many names. It can be called a large shrub or a small tree. It is a native to North America, hardy to zone 4. The native range goes as far north as Ontario, south to Florida, west to Texas, and back north to Michigan.
This is a stunning plant in the autumn landscape as it turns a fiery red. My favorite color in the fall is the various reds that pop in the woods, meadows, and gardens. This lovely little tree is quite common in our area. It grows in full sun, mature heights can be up to 30 feet but it is more commonly under 20 feet.
The leaves are odd pinnately compound, dark green and have a pubescent on the underside. There are 9- 21 leaflets on each leaf. The wings on the rachis (leaf stem) is one of its easily identifiable features.
The margins are untoothed.
The Winged Sumac is dioecious, though some polygamous flowers can be present. These polygamous flowers usually abort, so another plant is needed to fertilize the female flowers. The drupes appear in the fall, bright red with a single nutlet. I will have to add a spring photo of the flowers, greenish-yellow in color. This plant catches my eye in the fall, bright red fruits and bright red foliage.
The leaves are arranged alternately along the stem. The stems are woody and can be multiple stemmed or a single trunk. The stems are reddish with noticeable lenticels.
New growth is puberulent (downy hair) to tomentose (hairs that are flattened & matted). The lenticels are very noticeable on these fuzzy stems.
The mature stems are smoother, light grey showing off the lenticels. This is a fast growing tree. It forms a colony by underground rhizomes. It is a pioneer species and is not eliminated by fire as it has a vigorous root system.
Native Americans used the roots to treat dysentery and the fruits to make dye.
Before I end this post, I want to share a similar Sumac, Rhus glabra. It is similar to Rhus copallina in most every way except two- leaflets on R. copallina are untoothed and the stems have wings on the midrib. See the leaflets below? Toothed. And the stems? Unwinged. It is Rhus glabra.
My references are Forestry Service, UCONN, MOBOT, U of Florida, Illinois Wildflower, Missouri Plants (great photos of the male and female flowers), and Floridata.
Thanks for coming to see another tree post. Be sure to check back as new photos are added with fall colors, flowers, and fruits. For those who are new to the tree posts, I have all the trees listed under the Tuesday Trees tab at the top of the page.
©Copyright 2012 Janet. All rights reserved. Content created by Janet for The Queen of Seaford. words and photos by Janet,The Queen of Seaford.