Hearing the word "sumac", you may think of poison, such as poison sumac. Though smooth sumac is NOT poisonous, the leaves and blooms of both poison sumac and smooth sumac are quite similar. The main difference is the fruit produced by the shrubs. Poison sumac has grayish-white, flattened fruit while smooth sumac has red fruit. To be on the safe side, do not touch either shrub.
Smooth sumac is a deciduous shrub capable of reaching 20 feet tall though 9 to 15 feet tall (and wide) is more common. Smooth sumac grows well in both moist and dry soils, but prefers dry soil and full sun. The shrub is also drought tolerant.
|Bloom clusters (panicles) of smooth sumac|
Areas where smooth sumac grows.Map courtesy of U.S. Geological Survey