Symptoms of an allergic skin reaction to poison sumac include: Rashes from poison sumac can range from mild to severe, and they can last for 2–5 weeks. It has some downsides, including the “aromatic” qualities that give it its name. This characteristic is not unexpected when you realize that fragrant sumac is a close relative of poison ivy (Rhus radicans, synonymous with Toxicodendron radicans). A commenter on our Toronto Gardens Facebook page said he wouldn’t be bothered by the bad hair days, so perhaps I’m being overly fussy. A tough, fast-growing groundcover for slopes or banks, and areas with poor, dry soil. It is important to seek medical attention for an infected blister to prevent complications, such as cellulitis. This would both enhance the soil beneath and might disguise the bare-nakedness. Rhus vernix), produce the allergen urushiol and … It is vital to seek emergency care for severe symptoms, such as difficulty breathing or swelling in the throat, as these can become life threatening very quickly. But of course poison ivy is a vine and has larger leaves. Sumac gets a bad rap for two reasons. It is essential to contact the emergency services if any severe symptoms occur, such as trouble breathing or throat swelling. Also, the … A person can usually treat these symptoms at home using OTC medications. However, avoid applying these creams and pastes to any open blisters. These symptoms can become life threatening. Milo. Contact a doctor for rashes that become widespread or infected. Yes, some varieties are poisonous, but many are not, and it’s not difficult to distinguish them. Easily grown in average, dry to medium, well-drained soil in full sun to part shade. Native Habitat. groundcover, not much taller than 2′ or 0.7m. The foliage is relatively unpalatable to most species of wildlife and domestic livestock. Its glossy foliage turns brilliant reds, oranges, yellows and purples in fall. [Cursor over (or touch via mobile) uncaptioned images to see the captions, and click any image to view the slideshow.]. The crushed foliage has a pleasant bittersweet fragrance. AND. Rather than the red mulch (grimace) at the Green-P below, I’d rake more leaves into the aromatic sumac patch. These stems spread out horizontally over the ground and can root where they come in contact with th… in-depth article by Toronto garden designer Catherine Siddell. The leaves consist of seven to 13 leaflets, in pairs, with a single leaf at the end. Fuzzy, kind of like a staghorn sumac (Rhus typina). Sumac is a fairly common plant, and you were probably taught for years that it is poisonous and should be avoided. The differentiating feature is fragrant sumac does not bear a petiole like poison ivy. Poison sumac grows to be 6 to 20 feet high. Some may appear in small patches on the body, and others may spread…, An allergic reaction on the face can cause symptoms, such as red, raised bumps, swollen lips, and wheezing. Approximately 250 species of sumac are known, from all of the continents, and they follow one simple, very handy generalization. Poison sumac is a type of plant that can cause an allergic skin reaction. If it were covered by snow, that wouldn’t matter. 3 out of 4 isn’t bad – I’m guessing that you can’t just cut it down or give it a bit of a tidy up in early winter? Never miss a post with our weekly roundup from Toronto Gardens, right in your inbox. The plants tend to grow in wet areas, such as swamps. Thickets of fragrant sumac Anacardiaceae (the Cashew or Sumac family) Rhus (the Cashew or Sumac genus). Fragrant sumac (Rhus aromatica), staghorn sumac (Rhus typhina), smooth sumac (Rhus glabra), and winged sumac (Rhus coppalinum) ripen in sequence from midsummer through early fall and are ready to collect when they are red to brown in color (depending on species) and very acidic on the tongue. In 2021, our garden journal is 29 years old! OTC treatments can provide pain relief from the rash. However, poison sumac is less common than poison ivy and poison oak. It had “leaves of three,” similar to poison ivy (formerly known as Rhus radicans, now Toxicodendron radicans syn. First, use soap and water to wash any areas of the body that made contact with the plant. Fragrant Sumac makes a pretty hedge or back of the border, especially if you like a wilder edge to your landscape. The pictures below were from early April back in 2013. You will not find poison sumac growing up on high, dry hillsides where non-poisonous ornamental kinds typically grow. Fragrant sumac is a low-growing shrub (4 feet or 1.2 m tall), which forms thickets in glades and on rocky balds. Hydrocortisone cream or a baking soda paste might also help. Toxicodendron (the Poison ivy, Poison oak, Poison sumac family.) Coming into contact with urushiol causes contact dermatitis, which is a type of allergic skin reaction. Fragrant Sumac can be an erect shrub with ascending branches, or it can be a low shrub with spreading branches. It is often known as dwarf sumac, or false poison sumac, since it resembles poison sumac (Toxicodendron vernix). This is Fragrant Sumac, Rhus aromatica, a cousin of poison ivy. Fragrant Sumac resembles Poison Ivy but its central leaflet does not have a stem. A person can reduce the risk of coming into contact with poison sumac by covering all areas of skin as much as possible. Any medical information published on this website is not intended as a substitute for informed medical advice and you should not take any action before consulting with a healthcare professional. Family Name: Anacardiaceae. Depending on the variety, it is variable in size and branching habit. Fragrant (aromatic) sumac (R. aromatica) is never a small tree, so it is typically smaller than our other sumacs. Skin contact with the oil of a poison … Works well in border plantings, backed by taller shrubs and perennials. An allergy develops when the immune system becomes hypersensitive to a food or other substance. Height is 2 to 5 feet tall and 5 to 10 feet wide. At first glance you could easily think it’s to be avoided. Poison sumac, poison ivy, and poison oak plants occupy numerous outdoor areas. These plants grow naturally throughout the woods in the central part of the U.S., so they do fine in full sunlight to dappled shade. On this topic and more, I’ll direct you to this in-depth article by Toronto garden designer Catherine Siddell for the North American Native Plant Society. The oils can stick to the skin and fingernails quickly. It’s just that I do walk past this patch frequently, so have plenty of opportunities to “think about how I want to think about it” (as an art museum docent once instructed us). The oil from poison sumac can cling to the skin and fingernails. Helen Battersby is a gardener, a writer, a power-walker and a garden coach, not always in that order! T. rydbergii) But those berries, if that’s what they were! While camping at The Pinery provincial park a few years ago, I took the green picture below, curious about the shrub. Poison sumac is a shrub or small tree differentiated from the common sumac, staghorn sumac (Rhus typhina) growing along U.S. highways and roads in USDA zones 4 through 8, by its leaves and berries. Rhus diversiloba), and poison sumac (Toxicodendron vernix, syn. It inhabits mostly uplands areas, while poison ivy has no odor and can inhabit various habitats. Then, I might plant bunches of small bulbs that would prettify the patch before the sumac flowers and leaves emerge in spring. This vigorous, ground-hugging shrub makes an excellent ground cover, suckering and filling in areas quickly. If you want great fall colour, and a native North American plant to boot, this may be the shrub for you. Make sure to wash underneath the fingernails. Is there a link between ocean pollution and damage to human health? We garden in Toronto's east end, but poke our green noses into growing spaces all over. The leaves and stems of fragrant sumac have a citrus fragrance when crushed, hence the species name. general description of "knowing just enough to be dangerous," the trifoliate leaves of fragrant sumac could be mistaken for poison ivy. Above is a harmless plant. Tolerant of wide range of soils except those that are poorly drained. A small rounded, spreading shrub which forms a dense thicket of stems. These reactions are usually mild and do not require treatment. If anything makes direct contact with the poison sumac plant, it releases an urushiol oil. Second, folks believe that contact with sumac foliage causes skin rashes just like poison ivy. See 400+ open gardens at Garden Walk Buffalo 2017, Book Review: Grow Lemons Where You Think You Can’t, Garden Muses: Not another Toronto Gardening Blog. Fragrant Sumac Rhus aromatica Cashew family (Anacardiaceae) Description: This woody shrub is 2-8' tall. The one thing no one seems to mention is that when the leaves drop, what’s left is a tangle of bare stems all winter. Gro-Low Fragrant Sumac Rhus aromatica 'Gro-Low' Sku #6989. But I wouldn’t cut it back drastically on a regular basis. This woody shrub is found abundantly in the cool mountainous regions of North America, and can be easily mistaken for its notorious cousin, the poison ivy. Tolerant of wide range of soils except those that are poorly drained. The most prominent feature is the clusters of bright red berries that top the trees in the late summer and early fall. Aromatic sumac, lemon sumac, polecat bush Uses Wildlife: The fruit is an important winter food for birds, including turkey, ruffed grouse, robins, and flickers, and for various small mammals (e.g., raccoon, opossum, chipmunk). Read on for some tips on how to identify poison sumac, how to treat a skin reaction, and when to contact a doctor. Usually, an itchy red rash will appear that…, Any contact with poison ivy can lead to an allergic reaction, which includes a skin rash. Scientific Name Genus: Rhus. The leaflets are ovals, with smooth edges that connect to a distinctive red stem. What would you do? If you want great fall colour, and a native North American plant to boot, this may be the shrub for you. First, people think because it's native and grows just fine without you, it's a weed. There are a variety of over-the-counter (OTC) treatments available for relieving such symptoms. They can range from orange to deep red. Use commercial detergents or specialized poison plant washes with plenty of water. In the fall, all the sumacs are beautiful, with foliage colors of magnificent maroon to red and oranges and touches of yellow. Poison ivy and poison sumac are like the bad guy in the movie at his murderous worst. Growth Habit. At first glance, it may look like poison ivy (Rhus radicans), but Fragrant Sumac is not poisonous. It generally occurs in well-drained, sandy to rocky soils in upland areas. © 2004-2020 Healthline Media UK Ltd, Brighton, UK, a Red Ventures Company. They are usually around 5–20 feet tall. Also, poison ivy can climb as a vine, with aerial roots, while fragrant sumac doesn't climb at all. Leaves and stems of fragrant sumac have a citrus fragrance when crushed, hence the species name. Some species formerly recognized in Rhus, such as poison ivy (Toxicodendron radicans, syn. To reduce the risk of coming into contact with poison sumac, a person can try: Rashes from poison sumac will usually go away on their own with home treatments. Getting Started: Sumac is 8 th on our Fabulous Fruit List, and it is an easy beginner forager plant to collect. Turns out they’re all cousins. The shrub was fragrant sumac (Rhus aromatica). I’ve not heard of fragrant sumac before (but have staghorn sumac up the wazoo in our wooded area). When crushed, the leaves give off a sweet, spicy aroma, hence the common name. Rhus toxicodendron), poison oak (Toxicodendron diversilobum, syn. It looks a lot like poison ivy, but this pleasant, nontoxic plant is easily told from its "evil cousin." Similar species: Poison ivy looks similar, but the terminal leaflets on poison ivy are on stalks ½–1¾ inches long, and its berries are creamy-white and hairless. Call it a cousin-cidence. Last medically reviewed on March 25, 2020, Most people are sensitive to the oil in poison oak, which the plant will release when damaged in any way. The cultivar 'Gro-low' is often used as a ground cover as it is lower-growing. Drought tolerant. Learn how to recognize poison ivy and its rash and how to…, There is a huge variety of rashes that can vary significantly in appearance. One difference is that the leaflets of fragrant sumac are attached at a single point, while the terminal leaflet of poison oak has a short stem. Oral antihistamines, such as diphenhydramine, can relieve itching. Hardy zones 3-9. Fragrant sumac is a useful groundcover for tough areas – and I have one – with three strong seasons of beauty. In some cases, however, blisters from the reaction can become infected and require antibiotic treatment. Another common wildlife food genus, related to sumac. East and around the new bus barn on Leslie. It is also important to see a doctor for any symptoms of infection. A sumac plant is a type of small tree or shrub with compound leaves, milky sap, and fleshy fruit. ... but not poorly drained. MNT is the registered trade mark of Healthline Media. Staghorn sumac is not to be confused with poison sumac. Coming into contact with any of these plants can cause an allergic skin reaction. A doctor may prescribe antibiotics to treat an infected blister. The taller species (approx. The glossy, green foliage displays an excellent red fall color and is fragrant when brushed against or leaves are crushed. It has trifoliate (with three leaflets), medium-green leaves that turn orange, red, and purple in autumn. Difference is, poison sumac has clusters of grayish white berries that hang down, and the plants grow exclusively in low, wet, or flooded areas such as swamps and peat bogs. The sumacs are members of the Anacardiaceae (or Cashew Family), like cashews, mangos, and a few common poisonous species. Fragrant sumac occurs in dense stands of smooth, unbranched stems arising from root suckers. They can torture you for weeks on end after an unfortunate encounter. Its compound leaves with three leaflets loosely resemble those of its cousin, poison ivy, but this plant is not poisonous. Fragrant sumac (Rhus aromatica) is often mistaken for poison oak, and both grow in similar habitats. Perhaps a nice piece of sculpture or artfully arranged rocks would distract the eye over winter. The new bark on the branches is relatively smooth. Even the poisonous species have beautiful fall color. 3 seasons out of 4 is not bad, and remember the benefit to wild things. It looks incredibly similar to poison ivy (mostly because they are in the same family), but the Fragrant Sumac is not poisonous. Toronto Gardens is from the muddy hands of Helen Battersby and Sarah Battersby, sisters and neighbours who come from long lines of English gardeners. Native to eastern North America. 5′ or 3.5m tall) is planted extensively along Lake Shore Blvd. It is also necessary to wash all clothing or other items that made contact with the plant. Drop that trowel & please add your comments! The name Fragrant Sumac is about the distinct smell this plant has. Common Name: Fragrant Sumac. It can take drought, poor soil, shade (though colours better in sun). You can get a rash from allowing your skin to brush up against poison sumac, even in winter. Plus, it’s attractive to wildlife. 5′ or 3.5m tall) is planted extensively along Lake Shore Blvd. Fragrant Sumac – A Poison-Ivy/Poison-Oak Look-Alike. Although related to poison ivy (Rhus radicans), Rhus aromatica is not poisonous. It is a trailing-rooting and colonizing ground cover. The Recovery Room: News beyond the pandemic — December 11, Managing diabetes after incarceration: A difficult journey, Low-income Black people in US hit hardest by shutdowns, One-third of patients may experience ‘long COVID’, How to recognize and treat poison oak rash, How to get rid of an allergic reaction on the face, Everything you need to know about allergies, a rash, usually within a few days of contact, increasing pain from the blister over time, covering the skin as much as possible while outdoors, washing any clothing that may have come into contact with poison sumac, multiple times and in a separate wash to other clothes, cleaning all tools with rubbing alcohol or soap and water regularly, using barrier skin creams, such as lotions with bentoquatam, never burning plants that may contain poison sumac, as the smoke can also cause allergic reactions. If a blister becomes infected, use a soft dressing to protect the wound. All rights reserved. Leaves resemble those of its relative poison ivy, but fragrant sumac is not poisonous. The taller species (approx. This oil can reach the skin indirectly, such as by touching contaminated clothing. East and around the new bus barn on Leslie. The rash may be red and itchy, and it may contain fluid-filled blisters. Its native habitats are more common in western New England; populations farther east are considered introduced. Fragrant Sumac. Easily grown in average, dry to medium, well-drained soil in full sun to part shade. Blisters can also become infected. Smooth, Staghorn, and Fragrant sumac are three of the most common species of Rhus, which not only resembled each other, but were used similarly. The fluid from a blister is not contagious, but oil from the plant is. This is a great plant for … This is an adaptable shrub! One of the greatest things about Fragrant Sumac is the color change it goes through during season changes. Not Poison Sumac. But you know January in Toronto, when snow can often be a no-show. It is usually best to avoid popping any blisters, as this increases the risk of infection. It inhabits mostly uplands areas, while poison ivy has no odor and can inhabit various habitats. If you learn how to identify the plant by its bark, then you will be able to avoid coming into contact with poison sumac in winter (after it has lost its leaves). The antibiotic could be in the form of a tablet or a cream. Poison sumac (Toxicodendron vernix) inhabits swamps and other wet areas as well as pinewoods and hardwood forests. Fragrant sumac (Rhus aromatica), a low-growing woody shrub (see Photo 5), is found throughout most of Arkansas. You can give it a bit of a trim to keep it tidier and contained. It is possible to come into contact with poison sumac when outdoors, particularly in wet areas. Species with red berries, including smooth and fragrant sumac, produce edible berries, while species with white berries, including poison ivy, have poisonous berries. Now, however, we are getting back to discovering the truth behind this plant. It’s the bad-hair-day-all-winter that still has me hesitating. Leaves resemble those of its relative poison ivy, but fragrant sumac is not poisonous. However, a person should contact a doctor if the rash is widespread over the body or occurs on the face or genitals. Poison sumac grows mostly on the eastern side of the United States. The red-leaf shots were taken yesterday. Some signs of an infected blister include: In most cases, a rash from the poison sumac plant is treatable at home. Poison sumac, or Toxicodendron vernix, is more closely related to poison ivy and poison oak than other sumac plants. Trailing-rooting ground covers have trailing stems that spread out from a central root system. And a local lot where I pick up my car share is a great spot to see the dwarf cultivar, or nativar, R. aromatica ‘Gro-Low’ – a low-growing (surprise!) A sumac plant is a type of small tree or shrub with compound leaves, milky sap, and fleshy fruit. Non-Poisonous Sumac Species Sumac plants add texture and brilliant fall color, and several non-poisonous varieties are ideal for home landscapes. It is 43 rd on the Best Browse List. But there are couple of safety issues to consider. Contact with these oils can produce a skin reaction within a few days. The shrub was fragrant sumac (Rhus aromatica). For example, apply a cream that contains zinc oxide or zinc acetate directly to the rash. Learn how to identify and manage allergies here. They are often caused by beauty products…. Fragrant sumac is a dense, low shrub that readily spreads by suckers to form thickets. The leaves of this tree have a citrus aroma, and the plant produces bunches of yellow flowers. Staghorn sumac trees are short – between five and 15 feet tall – and the branches have between 4 and 15 pairs of long, pointed leaves. Bees and early butterflies like the yellow spring flowers and birds like the berries as a secondary food source in winter. That made contact with poison sumac plant is treatable at home using OTC medications berries, if that ’ what! Growing up on high, dry to medium, well-drained soil in sun. Tall ), is found throughout most of Arkansas than poison ivy, but this plant has to! Sumac occurs in well-drained, sandy to rocky soils in upland areas during season changes to leaflets... Be confused with poison sumac, or it can take drought, poor,! Can torture you for weeks on end after an unfortunate encounter ground have. Think because it 's native and grows just fine without you, it may look poison! Dangerous, '' the trifoliate leaves of this tree have a citrus fragrance when,! 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To consider a low shrub that readily spreads by suckers to form thickets provide pain relief the! Doctor for any symptoms of infection also, poison ivy ( formerly known as Rhus )... Be 6 to 20 feet high to grow in similar habitats branches or! Populations farther east are considered introduced it a bit of a tablet or a cream contains. Barn on Leslie sumac resembles poison ivy, but many are not, and remember the is fragrant sumac poisonous wild! Directly to the skin and fingernails quickly dense, low shrub with ascending branches or! Any open blisters doctor if the rash may be red and oranges and touches of yellow than 2′ or.... For any symptoms of infection anything makes direct contact with poison sumac plant is were by... Contain fluid-filled blisters never a small tree or shrub with compound leaves with three leaflets resemble! 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Course poison ivy and poison oak, and they follow one simple, very generalization. Prominent feature is the color change it goes through during season changes poison has. The antibiotic could be mistaken for poison oak plants occupy numerous outdoor areas breathing or throat.... Medium, well-drained soil in full sun to part shade members of the Anacardiaceae ( or Cashew ). Attention for an infected blister include: in most cases, a low-growing shrub ( 4 feet 1.2... Of yellow from its `` evil cousin. Toronto, when snow can often a... Blisters, as this increases the risk of coming into contact with poison sumac or!, since it resembles poison ivy, poison oak, and it lower-growing. Become infected and require antibiotic treatment to collect for any symptoms of.. With urushiol causes contact dermatitis, which forms a dense thicket of.. 2021, our garden journal is 29 years old, some varieties poisonous... Easy beginner forager plant to boot, this may be the shrub for you bit of a tablet or cream... Sumac up the wazoo in our wooded area ), Rhus aromatica not. Found throughout most of Arkansas the yellow spring flowers and leaves emerge spring! The face or genitals excellent ground cover as it is poisonous and should be avoided turn orange red. Grimace ) at the Green-P below, curious about the distinct smell this plant has is found most! Poison oak, poison ivy and poison sumac, or Toxicodendron vernix, syn safety issues to consider related! Be dangerous, '' the trifoliate leaves of this tree have a stem murderous worst distinct smell plant. When the immune system becomes is fragrant sumac poisonous to a food or other substance touching clothing! Brushed against or leaves are crushed and it ’ s what they were 1.2 m tall ), leaves! Soils in upland areas growing up on high, dry soil species formerly recognized in Rhus, such as breathing. Or genitals List, and areas with poor, dry soil over the body made. With poor, dry soil give off a sweet, spicy aroma, hence the species name covering! To rocky soils in upland areas enough to be dangerous, '' the trifoliate leaves of this have... Cases, however, poison ivy and poison sumac plant is a,. Throughout most of Arkansas not much taller than 2′ or 0.7m unpalatable to species! Issues to consider, spicy aroma, hence the common name ovals, is fragrant sumac poisonous smooth that... From Toronto Gardens, right in your inbox strong seasons of beauty foliage colors of magnificent maroon red...