Sumac vs Poison Sumac: What are the Differences? 

 April 27, 2022

By  admin

Sumac is a shrub in the family Rhusaceae. It has been used as a spice, medicine and dye since ancient times, with records of its use found around the world.
Poison Sumac can be confused for sumac because of similar names or appearances; however it is not related to plants from genus Rhus. Despite this distinction, poison sumac should always be considered dangerous due to its toxicity and potential health complications if ingested by people or animals..

The “is a sumac tree poisonous” is a question that has been asked many times before. The difference between the two plants is that one plant produces edible fruits, while the other produces poisonous berries.

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Learn how to distinguish between these plants to prevent a severe dermatitis!

Are you familiar with the distinctions between sumac and poison sumac? In this post, we’ll help you sort through the muddle.

Continue reading to learn how to distinguish between the two. There are six techniques to distinguish between poison and staghorn sumac. There’s also a lot more information about how to recognize poison sumac and how to deal with it.

What exactly is Sumac?

Sumac is a flowering plant that belongs to the Rhus genus. There are around 35 distinct species of sumac. They’re tall bushes that may reach 30 feet tall, with drupe-like fruits that grow in clusters. Sumac may be found growing in a variety of places across the globe, including East Asia, Africa, and North America.

Sumac has long been utilized in a variety of ways by many civilizations. The fruits of certain varieties of sumac, notably the variety known as tanner’s sumac (Rhus coriaria) in Middle Eastern cookery, are crushed and used as a spice. Smooth sumac (Rhus glabra) and staghorn sumac (Rhus typhina) have edible berries that are used in drinks in North America.

Sumac fruits’ rich red color has long been utilized as a dye in the manufacturing of Moroccan leather. Sumac leaves and fruits are mixed with tobacco to form traditional Native American smoking mixes. The robust hollow stems are used to tap maple trees and in pipes.

While many varieties of sumac are quite helpful, the poison sumac may be hazardous to one’s health. So, how do you distinguish between them?

What is Poison Sumac, and how does it work?

Poison sumac has more in common with poison ivy and poison oak than with the sumac species we discussed before.

Because poison sumac, poison ivy, and poison oak were all classed together under the Rhus moniker, things became a little complicated. This placed them in the same category as sumac varieties that aren’t harmful.  

These ‘poison’ plants have been renamed by botanists. They’ve all been given the term Toxicodendron, which implies that they might be harmful to your health!

Rhus vernix was the old name for poison sumac. It’s possible that it’s still named that. It is now officially recognized as Toxicodendron vernix. Toxicodendron radicans is the new name for poison ivy, while Toxicodendron diversilobum is the new name for poison oak.

Poison sumac, poison ivy, and poison oak are all plants that contain a chemical called urushiol, which may induce allergic responses. It’s possible that you’ll get a terrible rash as a result of this.

When burned and breathed, the leaves of poison sumac have been known to induce lung damage and even death in extreme instances.

If you want to get rid of poison sumac in your garden, don’t attempt to burn it down. It’s a better idea to bring goats in to eat it! They are not poisoned by the plant. Birds and other creatures like the berries as well.

How can you identify the difference between Staghorn and Poison Sumac?

These two plants are connected, as we’ve seen. They share several characteristics. They may both grow to be 30 foot tall shrubs or trees. Both are deciduous trees. They’re also both lovely in fall colors.

However, there are techniques to identify them different without developing a rash. Here are six guidelines for distinguishing staghorn sumac (Rhus typhina) from poison sumac (Toxicodendron vernix):

6 Ways to Tell the Difference Between Staghorn and Poison Sumac

  • The most noticeable distinction is that poison sumac has white berries rather than red berries. Rhus plants, such as staghorn sumac, are known for their bright red fruits.
  • Poison sumac berries are flattish, waxy, and grow on their own, while staghorn sumac berries are fused together.
  • Poison sumac is unlikely to grow with staghorn sumac in the same areas. Poison sumac favors a marshy, moist environment, but staghorn sumac prefers dry soil.
  • Staghorn sumacs like to grow in large bunches. Poison sumac, on the other hand, is a solitary swamp shrub.
  • Staghorn sumac bushes have serrated leaves, whereas poison sumac leaves have smooth edges (don’t touch to find out!).
  • The twigs of poison sumac are smooth, whereas the branches of staghorn sumac are hairy.

Is Sumac Vine Poisonous?

Poison ivy may become a vine, but poison sumac grows as a shrub or tree.

There is no such thing as a poison sumac vine. Most people consider poison sumac to be a tree rather than a shrub because its trunk may grow fairly thick.

Other Methods of Detecting Poison Sumac

  • On red stems, the leaves grow in opposing directions, with a single leaf at the end of each stem.
  • Because its bark resembles that of the dogwood tree, poison sumac is often known as poison dogwood. When the plant is young, it is smooth and crimson, but as it becomes older, it may become gnarled and grey.
  • Poison sumac is exclusively found in the Eastern and Southeastern United States; it is not present in the Midwest or Western United States.

Do you want to learn more about various plants? Check out the following:

The “poison sumac identification” is a plant that has been used in folk medicines for centuries. The difference between the two plants, poison sumac and Sumac, is that the leaves of poison sumac are toxic while the leaves of Sumac are not. This article will go into more depth about what makes these plants different.

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Emil Schoene

Born and raised in Austin, TX I come from a background of home renovation. By helping my family in my younger years with their construction business, I learned the ropes quickly and as I grew it became my passion that I still do today. Looking to share my knowledge with others. I invite you to leave comments on any post as I know you will have questions that you are not finding anywhere else.

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