SEARCH AND WILDFLOWER HOME PAGE    WHITE FLOWERS      CONTACT US



This is a native species.

Rhus glabra
Rhus glabra (Smooth Sumac)
Anacardiaceae (Sumac Family)

Foothills. Woodland edges, openings. Summer.
Lower Dolores River Canyon, October 16, 2007.

Rhus glabra is found in the Four Corners area of Colorado, Arizona, and Utah but not in New Mexico.  It is not a common plant but it certainly is easy to spot in the fall with its brilliant red leaves and tightly packed pyramid of red fruits.

Rhus glabra grows to over six feet tall with main stems of an inch or more in diameter. It is almost always found in thick patches which it forms from spreading roots.

The plant is usually dioecious, i.e., male and female flowers appear on separate plants. Both male and female flowers are white to green in dense clusters. 

Red seeds are in a tight pyramid-shaped cluster and are a very common sight throughout the United States in the late fall and winter. 

Rhus glabra's close cousin Rhus typhina, shares many of its growth characteristics but has velvety-hairy twigs and is found mostly in the eastern  U.S., only rarely in Colorado and Utah and not in Arizona or New Mexico.

The genus and this species were named by Linnaeus in 1753 from specimens found in "Habitat in America septentrionali [north]".  (Quotation from Intermountain Flora.)

Rhus glabra (Smooth Sumac)
Anacardiaceae (Sumac Family)

Foothills. Woodland edges, openings. Summer.
Lower Dolores River Canyon, October 16, 2007.

Rhus glabra (Smooth Sumac)
Anacardiaceae (Sumac Family)

Foothills. Woodland edges, openings. Summer.
Lower Dolores River Canyon, October 16, 2007.

Smooth twigs and leaves give the plant its specific epithet, "glabra", Latin for "smooth".

Range map © John Kartesz,
Floristic Synthesis of North America

State Color Key

Species present in state and native
Species present in state and exotic
Species not present in state

County Color Key

Species present and not rare
Species present and rare
Species extirpated (historic)
Species extinct
Species noxious
Species exotic and present
Native species, but adventive in state
Eradicated
Questionable presence

Range map for Rhus glabra