Winged Sumac

Biological Name:

Rhus copallinum (Winged-Sumac)

Natural Habitat:

Winged-sumac is a type of shrub that grows in a variety of environments, including woodlands, meadows, and fields. It is commonly found in North America, particularly in the eastern part of the continent.


Winged-Sumac is a shrub that is native to North America. It has compound leaves and produces small red fruits. It is often found in dry open areas and is used in traditional medicine.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: Is winged sumac poisonous?
A: Winged sumac (Rhus copallinum) looks similar to poison sumac, but is nonallergenic (doesn’t cause an allergic reaction). Winged sumac can be distinguished from poison sumac by its 9–23 leaflets and red berries. The most widespread sumac — staghorn sumac — is non-poisonous.

Q: How do you get rid of winged sumac?
A: Eradicating sumac through mechanical means requires chopping or mulching trees down as close to ground level as possible, removing saplings by hand, and mowing any root sprouts that break the surface. Mulching, using a disc or drum mulcher, is a quick and effective method for taking on sumac.

Q: Should I remove sumac tree?
A: If sumac is intermingled with other non-target plants, mechanical removal may be preferred to chemical control. Sumac should be cut twice, once in July and once in August. Cutting at the appropriate time is crucial for effective control.

Q: Is winged sumac edible?
A: Species with red berries, including smooth and fragrant sumac, produce edible berries, while species with white berries, including poison ivy, have poisonous berries.

Q: Is winged sumac toxic to dogs?
A: Note that poison ivy, oak, and sumac are not toxic to dogs and cats if eaten. However, the plant oils should be removed from the pet’s coat to avoid transmission to humans in the home.

Q: Where should I plant winged sumac?
A: Winged sumac prefers full sun, but can also be grown in slight shade. It is recommended to plant it in a more open location that can provide it 6 or more hours of sunlight per day. When it gets adequate light, its leaves turn beautiful bright red or orange-yellow in fall.

Q: How can you tell if sumac is poisonous?
A: Poison sumac has clusters of white or light-green berries that sag downward on its branches, while the red berries of harmless sumac sit upright. Also, each stem on the poison sumac plant has a cluster of leaflets with smooth edges, while harmless sumac leaves have jagged edges.

Q: Is winged sumac medicinal?
A: Description: Introduced as an ornamental. It also has medicinal uses for skin rashes, dysentery, mouth sores and sunburn. It’s bark is also widely used in the tanning industry.

Q: What is winged sumac good for?
A: Benefit. Use Ornamental: Winged Sumac is sometimes planted as an ornamental for its shiny leaves and showy fruit. Use Wildlife: Winter food for many upland gamebirds, songbirds, and large and small mammals. Wildlife eat the fruit, and deer also browse the twigs.

Q: What does sumac do to your body?
A: Rich in antioxidants Antioxidants work to protect your cells from damage and reduce oxidative stress within the body. There’s also evidence that antioxidants in foods like sumac may play a role in reducing inflammation. They may help prevent inflammatory illnesses, such as heart disease and cancer ( 5 ).

Q: What did Native Americans use sumac for?
A: Parts of smooth sumac have been used by various Native American tribes as an antiemetic, antidiarrheal, antihemorrhagic, blister treatment, cold remedy, emetic, mouthwash, asthma treatment, tuberculosis remedy, sore throat treatment, ear medicine, eye medicine, astringent, heart medicine, venereal aid, ulcer treatment, …

Q: Is sumac poisonous to humans?
A: Poison sumac is toxic thanks to the compound called urushiol, which is found in all parts of the plant. Urushil irritates the skin and mucous membranes of people. It’s particularly dangerous to burn poison sumac, because urushiol can aerosolize and cause severe damage to your lungs.

Q: Is sumac anti-inflammatory?
A: Various scientific studies demonstrated that Sumac had a free oxygen radical-scavenging effect, a protective effect against liver damage, antihemolytic, leukopenia, and antifibrogenic effects, along with its antiviral, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties.

Q: Is sumac poisonous or is it a spice?
A: Sumac is a spice that is popular in the Middle East. It is related to the poisonous shrub by the same name, but the culinary variety is safe to use and easily identifiable by its vibrant red berries (poisonous sumac is white).

Q: Is sumac an invasive?
A: Although sumac is native, it is highly invasive. In Curtis’ studies for the Vegetation of Wisconsin, sumac had a fidelity number of 10-12, making it one of the most versatile species in the state. Allowed to proceed unchecked, it is able to take over a prairie or savanna natural area.

Q: Where should you plant sumac?
A: Choose a location in full sun or partial shade. Staghorn sumac thrives in well-draining soil and disturbed soil in areas like old fields and roadsides. In terms of climate, staghorn sumac survives in USDA plant hardiness zones three through eight.

Q: How do you stop sumac from spreading?
A: Step 1: Prevent Seed Dispersal. Cut off the flowers in spring. … Step 2: Physically Remove Sumac Sprouts. Identify the suckers and dig down until you find the root. … Step 3: Apply Glyphosate Herbicide. … Step 4: Apply Selective Herbicide to Suckers. … Step 5: Mow or Cut Back Suckers.

Q: Are sumac trees good for anything?
A: Sumac is rich in a variety of nutrients and antioxidant compounds. Early research suggests it may be beneficial for blood sugar control and relief of exercise-induced muscle pain. However, more research is needed. You’re likely to find sumac in the spice or supplement aisle of your local grocery store.

Q: Is sumac a good plant?
A: Fragrant sumac (R. aromatica) has green flowers that don’t show well against the foliage, but it more than makes up for this shortcoming with fragrant foliage, spectacular fall color, and ornamental fruit. This is a good plant for stabilizing embankments and naturalizing in areas where the soil is poor.

Q: Is sumac worse than ivy?
A: Poison sumac is considered the “most toxic plant in the country.” However, on a positive note, it’s also much rarer than the others. It only grows in super wet areas, like bogs or swamps. Just like poison ivy, sumac also contains urushiol. That means it causes the same reaction as poison ivy — an itchy rash.

Q: How fast does sumac spread?
A: Native to Southeastern Canada and the Northeastern United States, and winter hardy to USDA zones 3 through 9, this sumac gains 12 inches or less per growing season.

About the author

Samuel is a gardening professional and enthusiast who has spent over 20 years advising homeowners and farm owners on weed identification, prevention and removal. He has an undergraduate degree in plant and soil science from Michigan State University.