Smooth sumac is a native plant found throughout the eastern United States. A good choice for difficult sites, mass plantings, screening and highways plantings. The dark green summer foliage turns an excellent yellow to orange-red-purple combinations in fall. Female plants produce scarlet, hairy terminal fruits in summer and persistent into winter.
"This species is native to the Chicago Region according to Swink and Wilhelm's Plants of the Chicago Region, with updates made according to current research."
All Common Names:
Tree or Plant Type:
- Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
- Chicago area,
- North America
- Small tree (15-25 feet),
- Compact tree (10-15 feet),
- Large shrub (more than 8 feet)
- Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily)
- Zone 3,
- Zone 4,
- Zone 5 (Chicago),
- Zone 6,
- Zone 7,
- Zone 8,
- Zone 9
- Dry soil,
- Moist, well-drained soil,
- Sandy soil
- Dry sites,
- Occasional drought,
- Clay soil,
- Road salt
Season of Interest:
- Early winter,
- Mid winter,
- Early summer,
- Mid fall,
- Late fall
Flower Color & Fragrance:
Shape or Form:
Size & Form
10 to 15 feet high and wide.
A large, colony-forming, native shrub best used in mass plantings.
Large ferny-like foliage gives plant a tropical appearance.
Tree & Plant Care
Often found growing in dry sandy to gravelly soils. Tolerant of clay soils.
Found in moist but not wet conditions.
Older stems tend to die back but new stems are always emerging.
Spreads by underground suckers forming large colonies.
Full sun brings out the best fall color.
Disease, pests, and problems
Cankers, leaf spots, powdery mildew, verticillium wilt and rusts.
Disease, pests, and problem resistance
Tolerant of black walnut toxicity and aerial salt spray.
Native geographic location and habitat
Commonly found growing along roadways, fencerows, prairies and fields throughout North America and Canada.
Bark color and texture
Mature bark is thin, gray and develops fissures.
Young stems are stout, smooth and turn wine-red.
Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture
Alternate, shiny, pinnately-compound leaves with 15 to 25 leaflets. Leaflets are oblong with toothed margins.
Dark green upper surface and lighter, smooth beneath.
Fall Color is a stunning yellow to orange-red-purple combinations.
Flower arrangement, shape, and size
Dioecious. Large terminal clusters of greenish-yellow flowers in June and July. Flower heads can be up to 10 inches tall.
Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions
Female plants develop upright, scarlet-red, hairy fruits (drupe) which persistent into winter.