Hansen's Northwest Native Plant Database

Rhus glabra (Smooth Sumac)


 Plantae Plants


 Tracheobionta Vascular plants


 Spermatophyta Seed plants


 Magnoliophyta Flowering plants


 Magnoliopsida Dicotyledons






 Anacardiaceae Sumac family


 Rhus L. sumac


 Rhus glabra L. smooth sumac

Note: Throughout the years I've written short articles for our website's home pages (home pages are the front page of a website) about these plants. They are now included at the bottom of this page, and are illustrated by botanical drawings and paintings, some of which are from books published from 1500 - 1900.

A fine, deciduous shrub, Smooth Sumac grows 9-12.'

The deep green leaves are alternate and compound with many long, sharply toothed leaflets and pale undersides.

They turn a brilliant scarlet in autumn.

This species is found across North America (USDA 2-10) and is an excellent pioneer species in a disturbed area.

It is exceptionally drought and heat tolerant and does not require a fertile soil to become established.

Birds love the bright red, fuzzy seeds which grow in erect clusters of as many as 700 individual fruits and persist throughout the winter.

The fruits are edible and have medicinal properties.

Perfect for native gardens.


From Homepage August 2, 2002

Smooth Sumac (Rhus glabra)--Right now the bloom of this native shrub is turning to the red berries which will ripen soon and may stay on the plant until winter. In autumn, the green leaves will change to bright red, giving a last hurrah before falling. Found mainly in eastern Washington, Oregon and British Columbia, Rhus glabra is said to be the only shrub to grow naturally in all the 48 contiguous states. It's an excellent choice for landscape and wildlife habitat.

Native peoples call the plant Makibug, but many birds call it delicious! Very high in vitamin C, the fruit can be made into a delightful and healthful beverage. It does take a lot of work, though. The fruit can also be dried which is much easier. Either smashed, strained and sweetened with honey or dried, it's the little red hairs all over the berry clusters that hold the vitamin. Their acidic flavor makes an unusual addition to jam or pies instead of the usual lemon.

As always, we urge extreme caution in using any plant for dietary or medicinal purposes. Certain identification of the plant must be made, as well as care taken to assure no herbicides have been used. Many plants are poisonous as are the chemicals sometimes used to abet or deter growth.

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