Identifying Poison Sumac
Name: Kim S.
I was wondering if the sumac that turns red in the fall
is the sumac that is poison? We went for a hike by Lake Michigan and saw
sumac but it was not listed on their poisonous plant list.
Years ago my brothers cooked their sandwiches over sumac and didn't know
it was poisonous. I wondered if you just touch it, is it
Poison sumac is restricted to around acidic bogs. There are many species of
sumac, some of which superficially look much alike but can be told apart
fairly easily with a good tree/shrub guide.
The following pages should help. Staghorn sumac (Rhus typhina) which is
not poisonous has colorful red leaves in the autumn and red fruit that
persists throughout the winter. Poison sumac has greenish berries and is
found in swamps.
Anthony R. Brach, Ph.D.
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Update: June 2012