Fall is the time when the native sumac shrubs shine. Their compound leaves turn bright orange-red to red, creating a stunning show of color in the landscape.
Smooth sumac (Rhus glabra) is a native, deciduous shrub. You’ll see a large grouping of these shrubs growing in one spot. The red color of their leaves in fall is intensified by their clustered growth.
Smooth sumac can get up to 20 feet tall, but is often between 10 and 20 feet in height. Their trunks are usually pretty thin and are often at an angle or contorted.
In the spring, sumacs produce clusters of small green/yellow flowers. Only the flowers on female plants will turn into clusters of bright red berries in early fall.
Wildlife Uses of Sumac
Birds, insects, and deer all use this shrub. It is the host for the hairstreak butterfly caterpillar. Deer will forage on the stems and fruit and birds will eat the berries in winter.
Read more about smooth sumac.
There are several other native sumac shrubs in Mississippi. These include the winged sumac (Rhus copallinum) and staghorn sumac (Rhus typhina). Incidentally, poison sumac isn’t in the same genus. Learn about poison sumac: Toxicodendron vernix