|Poison Sumac is a lot like
Poison Ivy and Poison Oak because it has the same chemical that makes you
These are direct quotes from the websites listed.
You can find more information on the net.
Poison sumac (Toxicodendron
vernix or Rhus vernix) is a woody
small tree growing to 7 m (20 ft) tall.
All parts of the plant contain a resin called
that causes skin and mucous membrane irritation to humans. When burned,
inhalation of the smoke causes diarrhea and other internal irritations
Poison sumac is not very
common, although the safe sumacs (see below) are very
common. Poison sumac only grows in very wet areas. It took me 10
years to find a sumac tree, and even then I only found it because a
friendly biologist showed it to me. I stand in mud and water up past
my ankles to when I go visit this tree (in a reserve in Concord,
- Grows only in wetlands
- Not common
- Leaves are smooth
- No hair on stems
- 7-9 leaves per stem
Notice that the leaves are not jagged or hairy, unlike the common
staghorn sumac show below.
This map shows the places where all sumac trees are
found and where poison sumac MIGHT be found. But you will generally still
need a lot of luck (good or bad) to actually find it. Remember, it only
grows in extremely wet areas - with roots in water, which kills most trees.
Word has it that there is quite of bit of poison sumac along the banks of
the Mississippi in some places, and that workers building Disneyworld in the
Florida wetlands Florida battled with it.
But the sumac you see growing along America's roads and highways is usually
staghorn sumac. (However much of the ivy you also see
growing along the road is
which is extremely common.)
The head of the tree is round and narrow and the branches slender and
rather pendulous; often it is simply a shrub. Small branches and young stems
pithy. Has acrid, milky, poisonous juice which turns black on exposure.
leaves are pinnate, 25-50 cm long, with 7 - 13
the leaflets are 4-10 cm long and sometimes mistaken for individual leaves.
The veins from which the leaflets grow are always red.
is a small white or grey
panicles 10-20 cm long; this distinguishes it from other
have red berries. Differs from other sumacs in having shorter leaves,
leaflets fewer, margins are entire. It is found in wet soils, whereas the
others like it dry.
- Bark: Smooth, light or dark gray, slightly striate. Branchlets are
smooth, reddish brown, covered with small, orange colored, lenticular
spots; later they become orange brown and finally light gray.
- Wood: Light yellow with brown lines; light, soft, coarse-grained,
brittle. Sp. gr., 0.4382; weight of cu. ft., 27.31 lbs.
- Winter buds: Terminal bud is much larger than the axillary buds, all
are acute, dark purple.
- Leaves: Alternate, pinnately compound, seven to fourteen inches long,
borne on slender reddish petioles. Leaflets seven to thirteen, obovate, or
oblong, three to four inches long, slightly unequal or contracted at the
base, entire, acute or rounded at the apex, short petiolate except the
terminal one which sometimes has a stalk an inch in length. They come out
of the bud orange colored and downy, when full grown are smooth, dark
green and shining above, pale beneath; midrib and primary veins prominent.
IN autumn they turn scarlet and orange.
- Flowers: June, July. Dioecious; yellow green, borne in long, narrow,
axillary panicles crowded near the ends of the branches. Bracts and
bractlets are acute, downy, and fall as the flowers open.
- Calyx: Five-lobed, lobes acute, short.
- Corolla: Petals five, acute, yellow green.
- Stamens: Five, with long slender filaments and large orange colored
anthers. In the fertile flowers short and rudimentary.
- Pistil: Ovary ovoid-globose, one-celled, surmounted by three thick
spreading styles; ovule solitary.
- Fruit: Drupaceous, globular, white, borne in long graceful racemes,
often tipped with the dark remnants of the styles. Ripens in September and
frequently hangs on the tree the entire winter. Cotyledons flat,