Winged sumac is a native, deciduous, large shrub that rarely exceeds 10 feet. It has alternate, compound leaves, 16-24 inches long, with a winged leafstalk. The leaflets are narrowed or rounded at the base and sharply pointed at the tip with finely serrated margins. The leaflets are dark green and smooth above, and pale beneath, except along the midrib. Compact clusters of greenish-yellow flowers bloom from July to September. Fruits mature later in the fall. The fruiting head is a compact cluster of round, red, hairy fruits called drupes. Each drupe measures ¼ inch in diameter and contains one seed. Each cluster of drupes may contain 100 to 700 seeds. Fruit is produced on plants 3 to 4 years old. Because most populations of sumac have male and female flowers on separate plants, only the female plants produce seed. Occasionally, plants are found which have both male and female flowers. The germination of sumac seeds is enhanced by their passage through the digestive system of rabbits, ring-necked pheasants, and quail. The presence of fire also encourages increased germination. There are about 60,000 seeds per pound.
flameleaf sumac, dwarf sumac
Range and Habitat in Illinois
Regularity: Regularly occurring
Regularity: Regularly occurring
Coastal Plain to southeastern Florida and west to eastern Texas. Inland
it occurs from central Michigan and central Wisconsin to southeastern
Iowa, extreme southeastern Kansas, and Oklahoma [11,12,15,20].
Occurrence in North America
KY LA ME MD MA MI MS MO NH NJ
NY NC OH OK PA RI SC TN TX VT
Distribution and adaptation
Winged sumac is found throughout the eastern United States. While sumacs generally prefer fertile, upland sites they also tolerate a wide variety of conditions. All are tolerant of slightly acid soil conditions and textures ranging from coarse to fine. Typical growing sites include open fields and roadsides, fence rows, railroad rights-of-way, and burned areas. Sumacs are not highly shade tolerate and are considered early successional species.
For a current distribution map, please consult the Plant Profile page for this species on the PLANTS Web site.
Flameleaf sumac is a deciduous, fast-growing, short-lived, clonal shrub
to small tree reaching heights of 20 to 30 feet (6-10 m) [11,15]. In
the open, the plant has an irregular, bushy crown with long slender,
alternate leaves on the branches. The dioecious flowers are borne in
panicles clustered at the end of the branches. The red fruit is a small
drupe containing a single nutlet. The fruits form dense clusters and
remain on the plant through the winter [3,11,30].
The above description is based on cultivated material from Cuba.
Range and Habitat in Illinois
rows but grows best on low bottomlands with well-drained, neutral to
slightly acidic soils [10,11,12,42]. It can also be found on poorly
drained soils, but its growth there is very slow.
Common associates of flameleaf sumac include sweetgum (Liquidambar
styraciflua), American beautyberry (Callicarpa americana), persimmon
(Diospyros virginiana), redbay (Persea borbonia), dwarf huckleberry
(Gaylussacia dumosa), wax-myrtle (Myrica cerifera), fetterbush (Lyonia
lucida), blueberry (Vaccinium spp.), and titi (Cyrilla racemiflora)
Key Plant Community Associations
indicator of any particular habitat .
Habitat: Plant Associations
This species is known to occur in association with the following plant community types (as classified by Küchler 1964):
K089 Black Belt
K100 Oak - hickory forest
K103 Mixed mesophytic forest
K104 Appalachian oak forest
K106 Northern hardwoods
K110 Northeastern oak - pine forest
K111 Oak - hickory - pine forest
K112 Southern mixed forest
K113 Southern floodplain forest
This species is known to occur in the following ecosystem types (as named by the U.S. Forest Service in their Forest and Range Ecosystem [FRES] Type classification):
FRES12 Longleaf - slash pine
FRES13 Loblolly - shortleaf pine
FRES14 Oak - pine
FRES15 Oak - hickory
FRES16 Oak - gum - cypress
Habitat: Cover Types
This species is known to occur in association with the following cover types (as classified by the Society of American Foresters):
40 Post oak - blackjack oak
64 Sassafras - persimmon
69 Sand pine
70 Longleaf pine
71 Longleaf pine - scrub oak
72 Southern scrub oak
79 Virginia pine
80 Loblolly pine - shortleaf pine
102 Baldcypress - tupelo
110 Black oak
One year old nursery grown seedlings are normally used for planting large areas. Once established, stands will spread from the root sprouts. The lateral root system is extensive and spread outward three or more feet a year. This sprouting is encouraged by cutting or fire injury. The colonies appear to lose vigor in about 15 years.
Flower-Visiting Insects of Winged Sumac in Illinois
(Observations apply to pistillate and unspecified flowers; on pistillate flowers, all insects suck nectar; on unspecified flowers, bee activity is largely unspecified, while the butterfly sucks nectar; some observations are from Grundel & Pavlovic, Krombein et al., and Grundel et al. as indicated below, otherwise they are from Robertson)
On pistillate flowers:
Apidae (Apinae): Apis mellifera sn fq; Apidae (Bombini): Bombus griseocollis sn; Anthophoridae (Eucerini): Melissodes bimaculata bimaculata sn; Megachilidae (Coelioxini): Coelioxys octodentata sn, Coelioxys sayi sn; Megachilidae (Megachilini): Megachile mendica sn, Megachile texana sn; Megachilidae (Trypetini): Heriades leavitti sn
Halictidae (Halictinae): Agapostemon sericea sn, Augochlorella aurata sn, Augochlorella striata sn, Augochloropsis metallica metallica sn, Halictus confusus sn fq, Halictus parallelus sn, Halictus rubicundus sn fq, Lasioglossum imitatus sn fq, Lasioglossum pilosus pilosus sn, Lasioglossum versatus sn fq, Lasioglossum zephyrum sn fq; Halictidae (Sphecodini): Sphecodes confertus sn, Sphecodes dichroa sn fq; Colletidae (Hylaeinae): Hylaeus illinoisensis sn, Hylaeus mesillae sn
Sphecidae (Crabroninae): Anacrabro ocellatus sn, Lestica confluentus sn, Lindenius columbianus sn, Oxybelus emarginatus sn, Oxybelus mexicanus sn, Oxybelus packardii sn; Sphecidae (Larrinae): Tachytes distinctus sn; Sphecidae (Philanthinae): Cerceris fumipennis sn, Eucerceris zonata sn, Philanthus gibbosus sn fq, Philanthus ventilabris sn; Sphecidae (Sphecinae): Ammophila kennedyi sn, Ammophila nigricans sn, Eremnophila aureonotata sn, Isodontia apicalis sn, Sphex ichneumonea sn, Sphex pensylvanica sn; Sapygidae: Sapyga interrupta sn; Tiphiidae: Myzinum quinquecincta sn; Scoliidae: Scolia bicincta sn; Pompilidae: Poecilopompilus interrupta sn, Tachypompilus ferruginea sn; Leucospididae: Leucospis affinis sn; Vespidae: Polistes carolina sn, Polistes dorsalis sn, Polistes fuscata sn; Vespidae (Eumeninae): Euodynerus annulatus sn fq, Euodynerus foraminatus sn fq, Pseudodynerus quadrisectus sn
Stratiomyidae: Stratiomys meigenii sn; Syrphidae: Allograpta obliqua sn, Eristalis arbustorum sn, Syritta pipiens sn fq, Toxomerus marginatus sn; Conopidae: Physocephala tibialis sn, Physoconops brachyrhynchus sn, Thecophora occidensis sn, Zodion americanum sn; Tachinidae: Archytas analis sn fq, Copecrypta ruficauda sn, Cylindromyia fumipennis sn, Linnaemya comta sn fq, Phasia purpurascens sn, Trichopoda pennipes sn; Sarcophagidae: Ravinia anxia sn, Sphixapata trilineata sn fq; Calliphoridae: Cochliomyia macellaria sn fq, Helicobia rapx sn; Muscidae: Musca domestica sn, Neomyia cornicina sn fq; Anthomyiidae: Calythea nigricans sn
Flower Gender Unspecified:
Apidae (Apinae): Apis mellifera fq (Gnd); Apidae (Bombini): Bombus impatiens fq (Gnd); Anthophoridae (Ceratinini): Ceratina calcarata (Gnd), Ceratina strenua (Gnd); Anthophoridae (Epeolini): Epeolus lectoides sn (Gnd); Megachilidae (Megachilini): Megachile mendica (Gnd) Bees (short-tongued)
Halictidae (Halictinae): Augochlora pura (Gnd), Augochlorella aurata (Gnd), Augochloropsis metallica (Gnd), Lasioglossum bruneri (Gnd), Lasioglossum foveolatum fq (Gnd), Lasioglossum leucocomum (Gnd), Lasioglossum macoupinense (Gnd), Lasioglossum pectorale (Gnd), Lasioglossum subviridatum (Gnd), Lasioglossum vierecki (Gnd), Lasioglossum zephyrum (Gnd); Halictidae (Nomiinae): Nomia nortoni nortoni (Kr); Halictidae (Sphecodini): Sphecodes banksii sn (Gnd); Colletidae (Colletinae): Colletes nudus (Kr, Gnd), Colletes producta (Kr); Colletidae (Hylaeinae): Hylaeus affinis (Gnd), Hylaeus affinis/modestus (Gnd) fq, Hylaeus mesillae (Gnd), Hylaeus modestus fq (Gnd)
Lycaenidae: Lycaeides melissa samuelis sn (GP)
Fire Management Considerations
Fire exclusion greatly reduces density and cover of flameleaf sumac
Plant Response to Fire
Fire stimulates root and root collar sprouting of flameleaf sumac when
aboveground portions are killed . Flameleaf sumac shows dramatic
increases in stem production following fire [23,26,31]. The plant
increased from 50 to 88 percent of the total plant density on annual
burned plots in an oak forest in eastern Tennessee .
survivor species; on-site surviving root crown or caudex
off-site colonizer; seed carried by animals or water; postfire yr 1&2
secondary colonizer; on-site germinating seed
Flameleaf sumac is well adapted to fire. Fire enhances germination of
the plant by scarifying the seed [1,32]. Following top-kill by fire,
flameleaf sumac will sprout from the root crown . Birds and mammals
may transport some seed to burned sites.
More info for the term: climax
Flameleaf sumac is an early-pioneer species that grows best in full
sunlight . It is considered a fire climax species that rapidly
declines 3 to 4 years following fire [6,41].
Growth Form (according to Raunkiær Life-form classification)
root crown [1,12]. It also regenerates sexually, but details have not
been described [15,32]. The seeds are dispersed by animals [8,35].
Immediate Effect of Fire
Life History and Behavior
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Barcode data: Rhus copallina
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Rhus copallina
Public Records: 2
Specimens with Barcodes: 2
Species With Barcodes: 1
National NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded National Status Rank: N4 - Apparently Secure
Rounded National Status Rank: N5 - Secure
NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure
Please consult the PLANTS Web site and your State Department of Natural Resources for this plant’s current status (e.g. threatened or endangered species, state noxious status, and wetland indicator values).
Streamline basal application of the herbicide Garlon 4 has been reported
as having a greater than 80 percent average control of flameleaf sumac
in northern Georgia and eastern Alabama .
Flameleaf sumac is sensitive to ozone damage [16,34].
Cultivars, improved and selected materials (and area of origin)
No known cultivar of this species is known to exist. Rooted plants may be available from specialty nurseries.
Sumac stands can best be maintained by eliminating competing vegetation by mowing, chemicals, or fire. Sumacs fail to compete with invading tree species and are seldom found growing under a closed canopy.
Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems
Value for rehabilitation of disturbed sites
Flameleaf sumac is tolerant to drought conditions. In a study conducted
on the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway in Tennessee, flameleaf sumac
showed the greatest and most consistent increase of any shrub during
the drought of 1987 .
Flameleaf sumac can be propagated by seed or by root cuttings .
Other uses and values
the tanning industry. The crushed fruit of this species was added to
drinking water by Native Americans to make it more palatable .
Because of the attractive colorful features of the leaves and flowers,
flameleaf sumac is sometimes cultivated as an ornamental [15,19].
variety of birds and mammals throughout its range [9,21].
Importance to Livestock and Wildlife
white-tailed deer [5,18]. In the Ozark Mountains of Missouri, the twigs
are browsed extensively by white-tailed deer during the winter months
when other more desirable browse is scarce . Mature berries of
flameleaf sumac are eaten by grouse, wild turkey, and songbirds [20,
37]. The bark and twigs are eaten by rabbits, especially during the
winter months .
protein, crude fat, and calcium but high in tannin .
Sumac serves primarily as a winter emergency food for wildlife. Ring-necked pheasant, bobwhite quail, wild turkey, and about 300 species of songbirds include sumac fruit in their diet. It is also known to be important only in the winter diets of ruffed grouse and the sharp-tailed grouse. Fox squirrels and cottontail rabbits eat the sumac bark. White-tail deer like the fruit and stems.
Sumac also makes good ornamental plantings and hedges because of the brilliant red fall foliage. It is best used on drastically disturbed sites where pioneer species are desirable.
Rhus copallinum (Rhus copallina is also used but, this is not consistent with the rules of the International Association for Plant Taxonomy.)  Shining Sumac, Dwarf Sumac, Flameleaf Sumac or Winged Sumac, is a species of flowering plant in the cashew family (Anacardiaceae) that is native to eastern North America. It is a deciduous tree growing to 3.5–5.5 metres (11–18 ft) tall and an equal spread with a rounded crown. A 5-year-old sapling will stand about 2.5 metres (8.2 ft).
Shining sumac is often cultivated, where it is well-suited to natural and informal landscapes because it has underground runners which spread to provide dense, shrubby cover for birds and wildlife. This species is valued for ornamental planting because of its lustrous dark green foliage which turns a brilliant orange-red in fall. The fall color display is frequently enjoyed along interstate highways, as the plant readily colonizes these and other disturbed sites. The tiny, greenish-yellow flowers, borne in compact, terminal panicles, are followed by showy red clusters of berries which persist into the winter and attract wildlife.
The flowers are yellow, flowering in the summer. The fruit attracts birds with no significant litter problem, is persistent on the tree and showy.
The bark is thin and easily damaged from mechanical impact; branches droop as the tree grows, and will require pruning for vehicular or pedestrian clearance beneath the canopy; routinely grown with, or trainable to be grown with, multiple trunks. The tree wants to grow with several trunks but can be trained to grow with a single trunk. It has no thorns.
The tree can be planted in a container or above-ground planter; recommended for buffer strips around parking lots or for median strip plantings in the highway; reclamation plant; specimen; tree has been successfully grown in urban areas where air pollution, poor drainage, compacted soil, and/or drought are common.
The tree grows in full sun or part shade. Soil tolerances include clay, loam, sand, slightly alkaline, acidic, and well-drained soil. Its drought tolerance is high.
- "CHAPTER III. Nomenclature of taxa according to their rank SECTION 4. Names of species Article 23". International Association for Plant Taxonomy. Retrieved 2014-10-01.
when it is a noun in apposition or a genitive noun, it retains its own gender and termination irrespective of the gender of the generic name.
- Linne. Sp. pl. ed. 1, ed. 2; Syst. nat. ed. 10. doi:10.5962/bhl.title.669.
- "Rhus copallinum L.". Wildland Shrubs of the United States and its Territories: Thamnic Descriptions, General Technical Report IITF-WB-1, Edited by John K. Francis. International Institute of Tropical Forestry. Retrieved 2008-08-24.
- Rhus copallina Shining Sumac by Edward F. Gilman and Dennis G. Watson, Forest Service, Department of Agriculture, Fact Sheet ST-568, October 1994
Names and Taxonomy
Comments: Epithet spelled "copallina" in many floras; Kartesz (1994 Checklist) spells "copallinum" following Linnaeus (1753).
copallinum L. . Varieties: The typical variety, R. copallinum L.
var. copallinum, is generally replaced in central Texas by the prairie
flame-leaf sumac, R. copallinum L. var. lanceolate Gray, which has
narrower and more falcate leaves, larger clusters of fruit, and a more
treelike rounded form. White flame-leaf sumac or southern sumac, R.
copallinum L. var. leucantha (Jacq.) DC., is a variety with white flowers
found near New Braunfels, Texas. Winged sumac or dwarf sumac, R.
copallinum L. var. latifolia Engl. is a variety with 5 to 13 broader
oblong to narrow-ovate leaflets, but some authors have relegated it to
the status of a synonym of the species [3,40]. This paper focuses on
the typical variety.
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