The Sumac Family

Smoke-tree Stag's-horn Sumac Stag's-horn Sumac Smoke-tree

What are they?

There are no native members of the sumac family in the UK, but one or two species are widely planted as ornamentals. This is a large family of mostly woody shrubs, trees or climbers and includes some well-known species around the world, such as Mango (Mangifera indica) and Poison-ivy (Toxicodendron radicans).

Where are they found?

These plants grow as garden ornamentals or amenity plants and are frequently planted in urban open spaces. Stag's-horn Sumac often suckers prolifically and as a result gets discarded regularly, often into the wider countryside where it may be found persisting on roadsides and rough ground.

Identification

Although the great variability of members of this family makes it hard to sum them up as a group, it does mean that identification of the species from each other is relatively easy. Take note of leaf shape plus flower and/or fruiting details according to the time of year.



Stag's-horn Sumac      Rhus typhina

Introduced from North America as a garden ornamental and often found spreading by suckers onto neighbouring land from gardens, or where growing as a result of dumped garden waste. Flowers May to June. A deciduous shrub or small tree, often suckering into sprawling thickets. Where grown as an amenity tree, suckers are often removed, leaving a bare-trunked, multi-stemmed tree or large shrub. Winter shoots have dark, pointed buds and are covered in dense hairs which give them the look of deer antlers in 'velvet'. Tightly clustered seedheads last throughout the winter.

Stag's-horn Sumac Stag's-horn Sumac Stag's-horn Sumac Stag's-horn Sumac
Habit
Flowers
Leaf
Leaflets
Stag's-horn Sumac Stag's-horn Sumac Stag's-horn Sumac
Seed heads
Winter twig
Bark


Smoke-tree      Cotinus coggygria

Introduced from southern Europe as a garden ornamental and very popular in amenity plantings and churchyards. Flowers June to July. A deciduous shrub or small, spreading tree. Grown in both green and purple leaved forms. The dense, woolly mass that surrounds the tiny seed capsules can look like smoke from a distance, hence the English name.

Smoke-tree Smoke-tree Smoke-tree Smoke-tree
Habit
Leaves
Leaf
Seedheads
Smoke-tree Smoke-tree Smoke-tree Smoke-tree
Leaves
Flowers
Flowers
Winter twig