Staghorn Sumac


Staghorn Sumac (Rhus typhina)

Description:

One of the easiest shrubs to identify throughout the year, staghorn sumac has a spreading, open form growing up to 15 feet (4.6 m) tall. Tiny green flowers in the spring are insignificant, but are later replaced by large cones of crimson berries that remain throughout the winter. Leaves are alternate, compound and turn a beautiful scarlet red in the fall. Buds are small, covered with brown hair and borne on fat, furry twigs. Bark on older wood is smooth and grey to brown.

 

Growing Conditions:

Sumac is commonly found on abandoned farmland, near old homesteads or along fence-rows. It prefers full sun but will grow under light shading. Sumac does best on well-drained sites and will not tolerate flooding. Even in poor soil, it usually makes good growth and requires little care.

Propagation:

This is a very difficult shrub to grow from seed, but fortunately it spreads prolifically from root suckers. Most people who have these shrubs growing on their lawn will let you have some young plants. Dig up small shoots early in the spring before the leaves have formed. It is best to move young sumac to a nursery bed. Water well and keep the bed mulched. After a year or two, they can be transplanted out to the final site. Cuttings can be made in the late fall, from roots or stems, but we have not attempted this yet. If you are trying sumac from seed, collect cones when crimson, separate individual berries and plant closely, about 100 to 200/square foot (.09 sq. m). The seed coat is very hard and may take many years to break down.

Wildlife Uses:

Berries are a preferred food source for ruffed grouse, ring-necked pheasant, eastern phoebe, common crow, northern mockingbird, gray catbird, American robin, wood thrush, hermit thrush, eastern bluebird and European starling. It is also used by over 30 other species, and since the fruit hangs on throughout the winter, is another excellent emergency source of food. Honeybees are attracted to the flowers in spring.

Areas of Usage:

A good choice for landscape plantings around the home, especially where spreading from root suckers will not be a problem. Its distinctive shape, exotic foliage, furry twigs and cones of red berries make it one of the best ornamentals available. Sumac can be used in clumps for more natural plantings, or as a single specimen with root suckers controlled by mowing. Shallow, wide-spreading roots make sumac a good choice for soil conservation along slopes, streams and pond-sides if the soil is well-drained. Staghorn sumac is an excellent addition to a windbreak if the spreading root suckers will not cause problems. Since it is resistant to salt, this is one of the best native shrubs for protection along shorelines or highways.

Additional Information:

The Staghorn Sumac, a small tree or upright shrub, is found in this province mainly east of Charlottetown. Ordinarily it is 10 to 15 feet high with a short, more or less crooked and inclined trunk. The branches are irregular in form and divide into comparatively small number of stout curved twigs which suggest the horns of a stag – hence the name. The beautiful scarlet, fern-like foliage in the autumn and the persistent, bright red cone-shaped fruit clusters are the two main distinguishing characteristics. It will not grow in the shade of other trees and is usually found on dry rocky or sandy soils, along fences, roadsides, and old pastures. It is seldom found with other trees. The wood is used for decorative finished and in making wooden novelties. The tree is also planted as an ornamental.

Upcoming Events

Jul
6
Mon
9:00 pm Summer Camp: Young Ecologists Se...
Summer Camp: Young Ecologists Se...
Jul 6 @ 9:00 pm – Jul 10 @ 3:00 pm
Young Ecologists: Session One This camp will begin to introduce the campers to the amazing complexity of our native Acadian forests. They will dissect owl pellets, take part in forest restoration planning and plantings and
Jul
13
Mon
9:00 pm Summer Camp: Nature Discovery Se...
Summer Camp: Nature Discovery Se...
Jul 13 @ 9:00 pm – Jul 17 @ 3:00 pm
Nature Discovery: Session One This camp will introduce the children to the woods, stream and native tree nursery that surround our Nature Center. The campers will delight in learning to use all their senses to
Jul
20
Mon
9:00 pm Summer Camp: Becoming a Naturali...
Summer Camp: Becoming a Naturali...
Jul 20 @ 9:00 pm – Jul 24 @ 3:00 pm
Becoming a Naturalist Session One This camp focuses on encountering and describing the natural world. Through the use of art and other hands-on outdoor activities, they’ll expand their understanding of life in the woodlands, waterways,
Jul
25
Sat
10:00 am Tracking the Mammals of PEI
Tracking the Mammals of PEI
Jul 25 @ 10:00 am – 11:30 am
Come on out and learn about the native and introduced mammals found on PEI, as well as a brief look at some of the mammals we’ve lost. After a brief slideshow, we’ll head off to
Jul
27
Mon
9:00 pm Summer Camp: Bushcraft Ecology A...
Summer Camp: Bushcraft Ecology A...
Jul 27 @ 9:00 pm – Jul 31 @ 3:00 pm
Bushcraft Ecology Ages 12-14 These campers will delight in learning survival skills such as one-match fire making, shelter building, rope making with natural fibres, and tracking animals. Touching on plant and tree identification, campers will

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