Smooth Sumac

Rhus glabra

Kenneth J. Sytsma, Wisconsin State Herbarium

Smooth Sumac is one of several sumac species. It is a shrub that grows up to 10 feet tall.

Smooth Sumac has many crooked trunks leaning in different directions.

The leaves of this shrub have lots of small leaflets which together make one "leaf." Leaves are medium-green, and the leaflets each have small teeth.

The leaves of Smooth Sumac turn bright red in the Fall.

The flowers of this plant grow in clusters three to five inches long. Flowers are yellow and bloom in June and July.

Virginia Tech

Merel R. Black, Wisconsin State Herbarium

Virginia Tech

Once the flowers have died, fruits grow in their place. Smooth Sumac fruits are bright red berries. They grow in a cluster shaped like a pyramid.

The following animals eat Smooth Sumac berries: Northern Bobwhite, Wild Turkey, Mourning Dove, Eastern Bluebird, Northern Cardinal, Gray Catbird, Common Crow, Purple Finch, Dark-eyed Junco, Northern Mockingbird, Eastern Phoebe, American Robin, European Starling, Brown Thrasher, Eastern Chipmunk, and Eastern Cottontail.

Eastern Cottontails also eat bark, and White-tailed Deer eat leaves and stems.

Smooth Sumac grows in open woods, fields, roadsides, and edges. It prefers dry soil.

Some plants that often grow with Smooth Sumac include: Eastern White Pine, Virginia Pine, oaks, American Elm, maples, American Beech, Eastern Redcedar, Black Cherry, and Sassafras.

This shrub provides good cover for many birds, mammals, and other animals, especially when many plants grow together in a thicket.

Copyright, Mark Brand

Copyright, Mark Brand

Smooth Sumac is a pioneer plant. This means it is one of the first plants to take over a field. Later, taller trees will push out the sumac.

This shrub may only live a few years.

Smooth Sumac depends on birds and animals to spread its seeds by pooping them out in new places. Then, new shrubs can grow.

Relationships in Nature:

Animals Using as Food Source

Animals Using as Shelter

Associations With Other Plants


Northern Bobwhite

Eastern Cottontail

Eastern White Pine

Northern Bobwhite D

Eastern Bluebird

Meadow Vole

Virginia Pine

Eastern Bluebird D

Northern Cardinal

White-footed Mouse

Black Oak

Northern Cardinal D

Gray Catbird

Least Shrew

White Oak

Gray Catbird D

Common Crow

Eastern Gray Squirrel

Red Maple

Common Crow D

Purple Finch


Silver Maple

Purple Finch D

Dark-eyed Junco

Virginia Opossum

American Beech

Dark-eyed Junco D

Northern Mockingbird

Eastern Chipmunk

Eastern Redcedar

Northern Mockingbird D

Eastern Chipmunk

Gray Catbird

American Elm

Eastern Chipmunk D

Eastern Cottontail

Wild Turkey

Black Cherry

Eastern Cottontail D

American Robin

Northern Bobwhite


American Robin D

European Starling

Mourning Dove


European Starling D

Brown Thrasher

Northern Cardinal

Smooth Crabgrass

Brown Thrasher D

Wild Turkey

American Robin

Common Milkweed

Wild Turkey D

Eastern Phoebe

Chinese Mantid

Red Clover

Eastern Phoebe D

Mourning Dove

Brown-headed Cowbird

Loblolly Pine

Mourning Dove D

White-tailed Deer

American Goldfinch

Japanese Honeysuckle

Japanese Honeysuckle Pa

Luna Moth

Spring Peeper

Climbing Bittersweet


Luna Moth

Kentucky Bluegrass

European Starling

Spined Micrathena

Bigtooth Aspen

Relationship to Humans:

Smooth Sumac is sometimes considered a weed. It is also a good attractor of wildlife.


Rhus glabra


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