Sumac Trees and Shrubs

Members of the Rhus Genus

Red Sumac
Richard Hamilton Smith/Getty Images

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 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 (Schin...MOREus 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.

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. I've removed many from a friend's garden on several occasions, only to find that they had sprung back when I next visited.

  • 01 of 12

    Elm-Leaved Sumac

    Sumac
    Bob Gibbons/Getty Images
    • Latin Name: Rhus coriaria
    • Other Common Names: Sicilian sumac, Tanner's sumac
    • Native to: Southern Europe
    • USDA Zones: 9-10
    • Height: Up to 10' tall
  • 02 of 12

    Evergreen Sumac

    Evergreen sumac
    DebraLeeWiseberg/Getty Images
    • Latin Name: Rhus virens
    • Other Common Names: Lentisco, capulin, tobacco sumac
    • Native to: Mexico, New Mexico, Texas
    • USDA Zones: 8-10
    • Height: Up to 12' tall
  • 03 of 12

    Fragrant Sumac

    fragrant sumac
    esemelwe/Getty Images
    • Latin Name: Rhus aromatica
    • Other Common Names:Polecat bush, sweet-scented sumac, aromatic sumac, lemon sumac
    • Native to: Eastern North America
    • USDA Zones: 4-8
    • Height: 2-8' tall
  • 04 of 12

    Lemonade Berry

    Sumac
    FloraFinder
    • Latin Name: Rhus integrifolia
    • Other Common Names: Lemonade sumac, lemonadeberry, sourberry
    • Native to: Baja California and Southern California
    • USDA Zones: 9-10
    • Height: Up to 10' tall
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  • 05 of 12

    Littleleaf Sumac

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

    Michaux's Sumac

    Sumac
    Susan Miller/USFWS
    • Latin Name: Rhus michauxii
    • Other Common Names: Dwarf sumac, false poison sumac
    • Native to: Southeastern United States
    • USDA Zones: 5-7
    • Height: This is one of the smaller sumacs at 1-3' tall.
  • 07 of 12

    Prairie Sumac

    Red Sumac
    Susan Miller/USFWS
    • Latin 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 to: North America
    • USDA Zones: 6-8
    • Height: Usually up to 20' tall
  • 08 of 12

    Skunkbush Sumac

    Sumac
    Us National Park Services
    • Latin 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 to: Western North America
    • USDA Zones: 4-8
    • Height: 2-12' tall
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  • 09 of 12

    Smooth Sumac

    YouTube
    • Latin 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 to: North America
    • USDA Zones: 3-8
    • Height: Anywhere from 2-20' tall
  • 10 of 12

    Staghorn Sumac

    Sumac
    Us National Park Services
    • Latin Name: Rhus typhina
    • Other Common Names: Vinegar tree, velvet sumac
    • Native to: Eastern North America
    • USDA Zones: 4-8
    • Height: 15-25'+ tall
  • 11 of 12

    Sugar Sumac

    Sumac
    Us National Park Services
    • Latin Name: Rhus ovata
    • Other Common Names: Sugar bush, sugarbush, chapparal sumac
    • Native to: Arizona, Baja California and Southern California
    • USDA Zones: 7-11
    • Height: 7-30'+ tall
  • 12 of 12

    Winged Sumac

    Sumac
    Us National Park Services
    • Latin Name: Rhus copallina
    • Other Common Names: Shining sumac, dwarf sumac, flame-leaf sumac
    • Native to: Eastern United States
    • USDA Zones: 5-10
    • Height: The shrub will grow 7-30' tall.