Rhus glabra

Species Native to Missouri
Common Name: smooth sumac 
Type: Deciduous shrub
Family: Anacardiaceae
Native Range: Northeastern United States to southern Canada
Zone: 3 to 9
Height: 9.00 to 15.00 feet
Spread: 9.00 to 15.00 feet
Bloom Time: June
Bloom Description: Yellowish-green
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Dry to medium
Maintenance: Medium
Flower: Showy
Leaf: Good Fall
Attracts: Birds, Butterflies
Fruit: Showy
Other: Winter Interest
Tolerate: Rabbit, Drought, Erosion, Dry Soil, Shallow-Rocky Soil, Black Walnut


Grow in average, dry to medium moisture, well-drained soil in full sun to part shade. Tolerant of wide range of soils except those that are poorly drained.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Rhus glabra, commonly called smooth sumac, is a Missouri native, deciduous shrub which occurs on prairies, fields, abandoned farmland, clearings and along roads and railroads throughout the State. A large, open, irregular, spreading shrub which typically grows 8-15' tall and spreads by root suckers to form thickets or large colonies in the wild. Very similar to staghorn sumac (R. typhina), except the young stems of staghorn are densely pubescent whereas those of this species are smooth, hence the common name. Large, compound pinnate, shiny, dark green leaves (each with 9-27 leaflets) grow to 18" long with a fern-like appearance and turn attractive shades of bright orange to red in autumn. Tiny, yellowish-green flowers bloom in terminal panicles (5-10" long) in late spring to early summer, with separate male and female flowers appearing on separate plants (dioecious). Female plants produce showy, erect, pyramidal fruiting clusters (to 8" long). Each cluster contains numerous hairy, berry-like drupes which ripen red in autumn, gradually turning maroon-brown as they persist through most of the winter. Fruit is attractive to wildlife.

Genus name comes from the Greek name for one species, Rhus coriaria.

Specific epithet means without hairs.


No serious insect or disease problems. Some susceptibility to leaf spot, rust, scale, aphids and mites. Tends to spread aggressively.


Best when massed for stabilizing embankments or for hard-to-cover areas with poorer soils or for naturalizing in wild areas. Has some nice ornamental features (ferny foliage, hairy stems, fruiting clusters and fall foliage), but is probably too weedy and aggressive for shrub borders.