The Sumac Family

Part of the Native Plant Trail


Written and narrated by Ed Miller.

The Sumac Family

Four native species of sumac have been planted here. We have not planted the fifth species, poison sumac, a plant of limey wetlands.

Originally there were mature staghorn sumacs on each side of the trail, female on the left, male on the right. The female plants have died and the replacement seedlings have not yet bloomed. Hopefully one or two will be female. Sumac gender is flexible and occasionally a male specimen will have a female flower and fruit. It is their way of colonizing a new location.

Smooth sumac seedlings have been planted on the right; again, the plants are too young to determine gender.

On the left are two stems of shiny sumac, apparently with separate roots, as one stem is male the other female. I consider this a very attractive plant. It seldom grows leggy and has glossy green leaves turning bright red in the fall.

On both sides of the trail are plants of fragrant sumac. Note the three parted leaves which may be mistaken for poison ivy. Crush the leaves to enhance fragrance.

Ed Miller, curator, Landis Native Plant Trail, February 7, 2013