Sumac Trees and Shrubs

Some People Are Allergic to These Trees in the Cashew Family

Sumac trees and shrubs are in the Rhus genus and are considered to be a part of the Anacardiaceae family, which is known either as the cashew family or the sumac family. Sometimes you will see it spelled as sumach. Many members of this tree family produce an oily liquid called urushiol that can cause allergies. Other familiar members include pistachios (Pistacia vera), cashews (Anacardium occidentale), mangoes (Mangifera indica), purple smoke bush (Cotinus coggygria), and Brazilian pepper trees (Schinus terebinthifolius).

While poison sumac, poison ivy, Atlantic poison oak, and Pacific poison oak are sometimes included in the Rhus genus (as Rhus vernix, Rhus toxicodendron, Rhus pubescens and Rhus diversiloba, respectively), they are often now separated into their own genus—Toxicodendron. They all contain urushiol.

If you look at the leaves, you will see that they are arranged in a spiral down the stem. Most are pinnately compound. The flowers come in panicles (clusters) that produce drupes (fleshy fruits with a pit in the middle).

You may find sumacs to be weedy depending on your area. They can produce many rhizomes that will produce new plants and take over your garden.

  • 01 of 12

    Elm-Leaved Sumac

    Close up of sumac blossoms.

    Bob Gibbons / Getty Images

    • Botanical Name: Rhus coriaria
    • Other Common Names: Sicilian sumac, Tanner's sumac
    • Native Area: Southern Europe
    • USDA Zones: 9 to 10
    • Height: Up to 10 feet tall
  • 02 of 12

    Evergreen Sumac

    Close up of evergreen sumac

    Homer Edward Price / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

    • Botanical Name: Rhus virens
    • Other Common Names: Lentisco, capulin, tobacco sumac
    • Native Area: Mexico, New Mexico, Texas
    • USDA Zones: 8 to 10
    • Height: Up to 12 feet tall
  • 03 of 12

    Fragrant Sumac

    Close up of fragrant sumac fruit.

    Matt Lavin / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

    • Botanical Name: Rhus aromatica
    • Other Common Names: Polecat bush, sweet-scented sumac, aromatic sumac, lemon sumac
    • Native Area: Eastern North America
    • USDA Zones: 4 to 8
    • Height: 2 to 8 feet tall
  • 04 of 12

    Lemonade Berry

    Close up of Lemonade Berries
    Richard Cummins / Getty Images
    • Botanical Name: Rhus integrifolia
    • Other Common Names: Lemonade sumac, lemonade berry, sourberry
    • Native Area: Baja California and Southern California
    • USDA Zones: 9 to 10
    • Height: Up to 10 feet tall
    Continue to 5 of 12 below.
  • 05 of 12

    Littleleaf Sumac

    Close up of littleleaf sumac berries.

    JerryFriedman / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

    • Botanical Name: Rhus microphylla
    • Other Common Names: Desert sumac, small-leaved sumac, scrub sumac
    • Native Area: North America
    • USDA Zones: 6 to 9
    • Height: Up to 15 feet tall
  • 06 of 12

    Michaux's Sumac

    Dwarf sumac leaves.

    Homer Edward Price / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

    • Botanical Name: Rhus michauxii
    • Other Common Names: Dwarf sumac, false poison sumac
    • Native Area: Southeastern United States
    • USDA Zones: 5 to 7
    • Height: This is one of the smaller sumacs at 1 to 3 feet tall.
  • 07 of 12

    Prairie Sumac

    Close up of red sumac leaves.

    liz west / flickr / CC BY 2.0

    • Botanical Name: Rhus lanceolata
    • Other Common Names: Limestone sumac, prairie flameleaf sumac, prairie shining sumac, Texas sumac, tree sumac, lance-leaved sumac, flame sumac, young Texas sumac, flame-leaf sumac
    • Native Area: North America
    • USDA Zones: 6 to 8
    • Height: Usually up to 20 feet tall
  • 08 of 12

    Skunkbush Sumac

    Curve-billed thrasher with skunkbush berry in beak.
    Danita Delimont / Getty Images
    • Botanical Name: Rhus trilobata
    • Other Common Names: Three-leaf sumac, sourberry, polecat bush, skunkbush, three-lobed sumac, quailbush, aromatic sumac, stinking sumac, squawberry, ill-scented sumac, basketbush, lemita, lemonade sumac, squaw bush sumac, stink-bush, fragrant sumac
    • Native Area: Western North America
    • USDA Zones: 4 to 8
    • Height: 2 to 12 feet tall
    Continue to 9 of 12 below.
  • 09 of 12

    Smooth Sumac

    Rhus Glabra Plant with Red Leaves in Fall.
    Maria_Ermolova / Getty Images
    • Botanical Name: Rhus glabra
    • Other Common Names: Red sumac, Pennsylvania sumac, scarlet sumac, sleek sumac, common sumac, white sumac, Rocky Mountain sumac, Upland sumac, western sumac
    • Native Area: North America
    • USDA Zones: 3 to 8
    • Height: Anywhere from 2 to 20 feet tall
  • 10 of 12

    Staghorn Sumac

    Close up of sumac sumach panicle's bright red color in early autumn.
    Ruth Swan / Getty Images
    • Botanical Name: Rhus typhina
    • Other Common Names: Vinegar tree, velvet sumac
    • Native Area: Eastern North America
    • USDA Zones: 4 to 8
    • Height: 15 to 25 feet tall
  • 11 of 12

    Sugar Sumac

    Close up of sugar sumac berries.

    Joe Decruyenaere / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

    • Botanical Name: Rhus ovata
    • Other Common Names: Sugar bush, sugarbush, chapparal sumac
    • Native Area: Arizona, Baja California, and Southern California​
    • USDA Zones: 7 to 11
    • Height: 7 to 30 feet tall
  • 12 of 12

    Winged Sumac

    Winged sumac plant.

    Katja Schulz / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

    • Botanical Name: Rhus copallina
    • Other Common Names: Shining sumac, dwarf sumac, flame-leaf sumac
    • Native Area: Eastern United States
    • USDA Zones: 5 to 10
    • Height: The shrub will grow 7 to 30 feet tall.