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Staghorn Sumach

Rhus typhina

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Anacardiaceae (Sumach)
Also in this family:
Deciduous tree
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
7 metres tall
Gardens, mountains, roadsides, woodland.

Red, 5 petals
Many tiny pale green flowers, 5 petals each, forming clusters which later become bright red.
A small deep red cone, composed of several individual drupes. Covered in many minute, soft, downy hairs.
A deciduous tree or shrub with compound leaves and toothed edges. The leaves reach 12cm in length and there are between 11 and 15 fairly linear leaflets. The leaves turn bright red in autumn.
Other Names:
Hairy Sumac, Scarlet Sumac, Staghorn, Upland Sumac, Velvet Sumac, Vinegar Tree.
Frequency (UK):
Occasionally seen  

Similar Species

Other Information


Rhus typhina, commonly known as staghorn sumac, is a deciduous shrub or small tree that is native to North America. It is known for its distinctive, velvety, antler-like branches and bright red berries that appear in late summer and fall. It is a hardy plant that can tolerate a wide range of soil and climatic conditions, and is often used as an ornamental plant in gardens and landscaping. It is also used in traditional medicine as it has some anti-inflammatory and astringent properties.


Staghorn Sumac, also known as Rhus typhina, is a small tree or shrub that is native to North America. It is a member of the cashew family and is often grown as an ornamental plant in gardens and parks. In this blog post, we will explore the characteristics, uses, and benefits of this fascinating plant.


The Staghorn Sumac is a deciduous plant that can grow up to 20 feet in height. It has a distinctive appearance with its hairy, velvety twigs and branches, which are covered in fine rust-colored hairs that resemble the velvety antlers of a young stag. The leaves are arranged in a pinnate pattern, with 11 to 31 serrated leaflets that turn a vibrant red or orange in the fall. In the summer, the Staghorn Sumac produces clusters of greenish-yellow flowers that develop into a dense cluster of red, fuzzy fruit called drupes. These drupes are covered in small hairs and can remain on the tree throughout the winter.


The Staghorn Sumac has been used for centuries by Native Americans for medicinal and culinary purposes. The fruit can be used to make a tart, lemony flavored tea that is high in vitamin C. The tea is also known for its anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties. In addition to its medicinal uses, the Staghorn Sumac has been used in cooking as a spice and flavoring agent. The drupes can be dried and ground into a powder that can be used in place of lemon juice or vinegar in recipes.


The Staghorn Sumac is an excellent plant for attracting pollinators to your garden. The flowers attract bees, butterflies, and other insects, while the fruit provides food for birds and small mammals. The plant is also used for erosion control, as its deep root system helps to stabilize the soil on slopes and banks. Additionally, the Staghorn Sumac is a low-maintenance plant that can grow in a variety of soil types and is tolerant of drought and harsh growing conditions.

The Staghorn Sumac is a versatile plant that has many uses and benefits. It is not only a beautiful ornamental plant but also a valuable medicinal and culinary resource. Whether you are looking to attract pollinators to your garden, stabilize the soil on a slope, or simply enjoy a delicious cup of tea, the Staghorn Sumac is a plant that is definitely worth considering.

More Information about Staghorn Sumach

While Staghorn Sumac has a lot of benefits and uses, there are some things to be aware of when growing this plant. First, it can spread easily and become invasive, so it is important to control its growth by pruning regularly and removing unwanted shoots. Second, the fuzzy hairs on the fruit can cause skin irritation for some people, so it is important to handle the fruit with care or wear gloves when harvesting.

Despite these minor considerations, Staghorn Sumac is a plant that is relatively easy to grow and maintain. It is adaptable to a variety of growing conditions and is generally pest and disease-resistant. As a result, it is a popular choice for landscaping, particularly in naturalistic and native gardens.

If you are interested in adding Staghorn Sumac to your garden, it is best to start with a small plant and give it plenty of room to grow. The plant prefers full sun to partial shade and well-drained soil, but can tolerate a range of soil types, including sandy or clay soils. Once established, the Staghorn Sumac requires little maintenance, except for occasional pruning to control its growth and shape.

The Staghorn Sumac is a beautiful and versatile plant that has many benefits and uses. Whether you are interested in its medicinal properties, culinary uses, or its ability to attract pollinators and wildlife to your garden, this plant is definitely worth considering for your next landscaping project.

In addition to its medicinal, culinary, and ecological benefits, Staghorn Sumac has a rich cultural history that spans centuries. Native American tribes, including the Cherokee, Iroquois, and Ojibwe, used various parts of the plant for medicinal purposes, including treating fevers, stomachaches, and sore throats. They also used the plant as a dye for baskets and textiles, and the powdered fruit was used as a traditional seasoning for meats and stews.

The plant has also been featured in literature and art throughout history. The American poet Emily Dickinson, for example, wrote a poem titled "The Hummingbird's Sumac," which describes the plant's importance as a food source for birds. The plant has also been depicted in artwork, such as in the paintings of the Hudson River School, a group of landscape painters who were active in the mid-19th century.

Overall, the Staghorn Sumac is a fascinating and valuable plant with a rich history and a range of benefits and uses. Whether you are interested in its ecological, culinary, or cultural significance, this plant is a worthy addition to any garden or landscape.

Staghorn Sumac has also been used in traditional medicine beyond North America, with various cultures utilizing different parts of the plant for different health benefits. In Turkey, for example, the fruit is used as a natural remedy for colds, sore throats, and digestive issues. In Iran, the dried fruit is used as a traditional medicine to treat various ailments, including headaches and fever.

In recent years, there has been growing interest in Staghorn Sumac's potential as a functional food and natural supplement. The fruit is a rich source of antioxidants, flavonoids, and other beneficial compounds, which have been shown to have anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, and antimicrobial properties. As a result, Staghorn Sumac has been studied for its potential to improve immune function, reduce oxidative stress, and prevent chronic diseases.

Some companies have also started to produce Staghorn Sumac-based products, including teas, juices, and powders, which are marketed for their health benefits. However, it is important to note that more research is needed to fully understand the health effects of Staghorn Sumac and to ensure the safety and quality of these products.

In conclusion, Staghorn Sumac is a fascinating plant with a rich cultural history, ecological benefits, and potential health benefits. Whether you are interested in its culinary uses, medicinal properties, or ecological significance, this plant is a valuable addition to any garden or landscape. With its beautiful fall foliage, distinctive fuzzy fruit, and low maintenance requirements, Staghorn Sumac is a versatile plant that is definitely worth considering for your next gardening project.


Staghorn Sumac filmed on the 23rd July 2023 in Horwich, Lancashire.


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