Smooth Sumac

  • Scientific name: Rhus glabra
  • Brilliant red fall foliage
  • Fruit is produced on plants 3 to 4 years old
  • Shrub or small tree growing up to 9′ high
  • Hardy species, prefers partial to full sun
  • Grows best in poor, well-drained soils
  • Used as winter emergency food for wildlife

Quantity is per pound. Example: 1 = 1 lb, 2 = 2 lbs, 3 = 3lbs, etc. This is pure seed, not a live plant.


Smooth sumac (Rhus glabra) can be a shrub or small tree growing up to 3 meters in height. It forms thickets from root suckers. Smooth sumac is found in open woodlands, prairies, on dry rocky hillsides, and in canyons. It grows best in poor, well-drained soils, with partial to full sun. However, this is a hardy species and will tolerate many soil types including soil that is slightly saline.

Smooth sumac vigorously resprouts from rhizomes following fire. The rhizomes are usually located between 3 and 12 inches below the soil surface and this may provide protection from heat during a fire.

Propagation can occur by use of seeds or root cuttings. Seeds germinate best when exposed to continuous light and alternating warm and cool temperatures.

Smooth sumac was a widely used species among Native American tribes. The uses included the making of a root and leaf tea to treat diarrhea, dysentery, and mouth/throat ulcers. The leaves of the plant were smoked for asthma. The blossoms were used by the Chippewa in a mouthwash for teething children. Comanche children enjoyed the sour acid taste of the fruits and leaves were added to tobacco for smoking by adults. Dye was also created from various parts of the smooth sumac. The fruits were used to make red dyes and the inner bark used to make yellow dyes.

***Click on the “Quick Plant Facts” tab above for more information.

(Rhus glabra)

Smooth Sumac NRCS Plant Fact Sheet

PDF version of NRCS Plant Guide & Fact Sheet

Prepared By & Species Coordinator: USDA NRCS Northeast Plant Materials Program

Download PDF

Helpful Links

Additional information about this product can be found on the academic websites linked below.


Many plants have more than one common and scientific name. We've listed a few of them below.

  • Smooth Sumac
  • Rhus glabra
  • White Sumac
  • Upland Sumac
  • Scarlet Sumac

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Quick Plant Facts
Common Name:

Smooth Sumac

Scientific Name:



Plant Type:

pH Tolerance:

Seed Count


Growth Height:

Min. Precipitation

10 Inches Minimum

Best Time to Sow:

Max Sowing Depth:

Growth Season:

Sun & Shade Tolerance:

Full sun, Partial shade

Zone Map


Hardiness Zones:

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