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Rhus copallinum L.Author(s): K.F Connor
Source: In: Francis, John K. ed. 2004. Wildland shrubs of the United States and its Territories: thamnic descriptions: volume 1. Gen. Tech. Rep. IITF-GTR-26. San Juan, PR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, International Institute of Tropical Forestry, and Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station: 625-627.
Publication Series: Paper (invited, offered, keynote)
Station: International Institute of Tropical Forestry
PDF: Download Publication (181.46 KB)
DescriptionShining sumac is an upright, deciduous, clonal shrub or (rarely) small tree from 3 to 6 m tall. Bark ranges in color from light brown to gray to reddish-brown. Shoots and twigs are hairy and reddish in color. Twigs have conspicuous lenticels. The sparsely branched, flat crown is composed of alternate, pinnately compound leaves approximately 15 to 30 cm long, with wings between each of the seven to 27 glossy, dark green leaflets. Leaflets are paired, olbong-lanceolate in shape, and from 3 to 10 cm long. Shining sumac grows from southern Ontario south along the Coastal Plain to Florida. It extends westward into eastern Texas, and inland from central Michigan and Wisconsin to Kansas and Oklahoma. It is also found in Cuba. It is an early pioneer species and grows best on well drained soils in full sunlight. It can form thickets in abandoned fields, along roadsides, in glades and open woods, and in waste areas. It is difficult to get rid of, once established, due to its ability to spread from rhizomes. This characteristic also makes it well adapted to fire. Shining sumac will tolerate compacted soil, drought, pollution, heavy pruning, and transplanting, but the shallow roots make it susceptible to uprooting, and the stems can break in strong wind storms. It can be a serious competitor with young pines and hardwoods. It also regenerates sexually; from May to August, plants produce panicles of small yellow-green dioecious flowers that have five petals and five sepals. The 3- to 5- mm pubescent fruits are small drupes that contain a single nutlet. Fruits turn dark red when ripe and often remain on the plant throughout the winter. Dense thickets of shining sumac serve as cover for birds and mammals. The seeds are eaten by a variety of birds, while the flowers attract butterflies. Deer and rabbits commonly browse the twigs in winter; rabbits also eat the bark. It is not, however, a preferred food and is considered a poor to moderately important browse
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CitationConnor, K.F. 2004. Rhus copallinum L. In: Francis, John K. ed. 2004. Wildland shrubs of the United States and its Territories: thamnic descriptions: volume 1. Gen. Tech. Rep. IITF-GTR-26. San Juan, PR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, International Institute of Tropical Forestry, and Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station: 625-627.
Keywordsspecies description, Rhus copallinum, shining sumac
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