Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Tuesday's Trees- Winged Sumac

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.   

Pests are not really significant to the Winged Sumac, aphids and scale are two most mentioned.  

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.

33 comments:

  1. I, too, love this in the fall--spectacular colors! I've never noticed the drupes prior to your photos--now, I need to take a walk in the forest to see what I can find! Great post, as always.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Julie, you never know what goodies you will find in 'your own backyard'!

      Delete
  2. One of my favorite natives. I just dug a stem for Gail who wants some-I'll give it to her next week. Winged sumac is awesome not only for what you said but for the fact it is drought tolerant.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Tina, this time of year it is one of my favorites too. I know Gail will love it.

      Delete
  3. Now this is one tree I do recognize, especially in the fall. It grows all along the interstate here and is a stunning display right now. I love those fiery red leaves!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Rose, I am glad! The fiery red leaves are stunning this time of year.

      Delete
  4. I love those sumacs. We have them too. They are stupendous in fall, but ours aren't turning yet. Red is a grand color in fall isn't it?~~Dee

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dee, They are all over the place aren't they? I imagine yours will be turning red soon. Red is my favorite fall color.

      Delete
  5. It is beautiful, especially in the fall. And I learned a lot of new words from this post.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Carolyn, I am glad you learned some new words, me too.

      Delete
  6. Wonderful tutorial, Janet. Love the color and berries.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Just drove from Chicago to the Twin Cities and back and the sumac foliage was a real standout. Not sure if it was winged sumac.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jason, Imagine you saw a lot of great fall colors! Interstate plant ID isn't always easy.

      Delete
  8. The midrib "wings" are quite fetching. Had I had all of this info when I bought my Rhus, I would not have wound up with a fairly lackluster variety.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ricki, yes, it is one of the best features to recognize this sumac.

      Delete
  9. Even before I knew anything about plants, I always thought a cluster of Sumac looked exotic, almost tropical, but they are anything but foreign.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Les, yes, the sumac is kind of tropical looking, love the bright red fall color.

      Delete
  10. We have tons of winged sumac here. Comes up everyplace. The fruits and fall color are very striking.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sweetbay, yes it does come up everywhere!! Nice bright color, filling in spots in the edge of the woods.

      Delete
  11. This is such a great "tree". I have it growing all over in my garden. It does seem to spread rather happily. The fruit is beautiful and the birds like it and with its gorgeous fall color it is a wonderful addition to any garden.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Karin, it is a great 'tree' or shrub, close enough. Agreed, wonderful addition to any garden.

      Delete
  12. Janet I love this tree...one of my fav natives especially for the fall color...I keep hoping a seed might find its way into my garden...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Donna@GEV, glad it is one of your favorites, hope you find one in your yard soon.

      Delete
  13. Great tree for birds & the fall foliage is fabulous. I've never had one in any garden tho. I just enjoy them around the neighborhood.
    p.s. the "Skunk" fest looks like a good time!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kathleen, yes the birds enjoy it a lot!! Yes, the Skunk fest was a blast! Can't wait for the Spring Skunk Fest.

      Delete
  14. ..and then there's similar Chinese Sumac, noxious invasive stinky weed tree of my yard (well, maybe except for the mulberry.)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ray, ew, sorry you have the Chinese one in your yard. (mulberry is another I hope to write about sometime.)

      Delete
  15. I think these are beautiful in the fall. I love how fiery their colors are. We have quite a bit of it here, which I enjoy. :o) Thanks for the tree lesson!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Tammy, Yes I think so too. Beautiful! Glad you enjoyed your tree lesson.

      Delete
  16. I am so sorry, I have visited this post and left a comment and the comment did not appear. This has been happening quite frequently with my WP id. Sumac is such a beautiful plant at this time of year, and one not often featured.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Donna, I am sorry you are having trouble with the comments. Not sure what else I can do. Glad you like the Sumac.

      Delete
  17. Your post is quite detailed. I have often read much of the terminology that describes this plant, but had now idea what they meant. This certainly clears them up. Thank you for sharing your post with me! ~Lynda

    ReplyDelete

If you use OpenID/Anonymous please sign your name so I know who you are...there is a lot of spam out there. Thanks for visiting today. The Queen would be pleased if you left a comment...... :-D thanks! I do respond to your comments, you can click on the email followup comments to have it in your inbox.

I am now moderating all comments. Too much spam is coming through. Sorry folks.