Smooth Sumac

Rhus glabra

Smooth Sumac, Rhus glabra, photo © by Mike Plagens

Sycamore Creek in the Pine Mountain Wilderness, Yavapai Co., Arizona, USA. 07 June 2009. The fruit were observed in the same location in Sept. 2015.

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thicket forming Smooth Sumac, Rhus glabra, photo © by Mike Plagens
Fruit of Smooth Sumac, Rhus glabra, photo © by Mike Plagens

LEAVES: Large, pinnately compound leaves have 11 to 19 leaflets, are alternate on the stems, are smooth and rather shiny, and have margins with small serrations. In autumn the leaves change bright red before dropping off for the winter.

SHRUB: A shrub with one or a few main stems reaching mostly 1 to 3 m tall. Typically many plants grow together forming a thicket. The stems and twigs are smooth, free of pubescence.

FLOWERS: Large panicles of many small cream-yellow flowers. Blooming late spring into summer.

RANGE: Smooth Sumac occurs in Arizona's sycamore woodlands mostly at elevations above 1200 m elevation. In can also be found along drainages and in moister, shady spots in ponderosa woodlands. This plant is otherwise widely distributed across North America.

FRUIT: An elliptic berry with thin flesh over a single hard seed. Ripening to deep red by late summer.

UNARMED. No spines or thorns.

Anacardiaceae -- Sumac Family

More Information:

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Arizona Naturalist
Sycamore Canyons
The Flora of Arizona's Sycamore Canyons


Copyright Michael J. Plagens, page created 9 Oct. 2010
updated 26 Sept. 2015