Plant Data Sheet

Large Photograph of Rhus glabra Large Photograph of Rhus glabra Large Photograph of Rhus glabra


Species: Rhus glabra  Other names: Dwarf Sumac, Mountain Sumac, Scarlet Sumac, Smooth Sumac, Upland Sumac, White Shoemake, Vinegar-tree, Red sumac


Native name: tant į t


Traditional uses: Used extensively by Native Americans for food and medicine. Young shoots and roots are peeled and eaten raw. The fruit is also eaten raw, cooked or made into a lemonade-like drink. The edible fruit is a large erect cluster of small bright red berries. The edible young shoots are gathered in spring, roots and berries in fall. Dried for later herb use. Believed by some Native American tribes to foretell the weather and the changing of the seasons, for this reason it was held as a sacred plant.


Range: Native to North America found in all 48-mainland states of USA and in southern Canada.

State Distributional Map for RHGL



Local occurrence: Mostly east of the cascades. Open woodlands prairies, on dry rocky hillsides and in canyons. 



Habitat preference: Found growing in thickets and waste ground, open fields and roadsides. It prefers well-drained acid soil and full sun.


Plant strategy type: Weedy colonizer.


May be collected as: root cuttings are best long taken in December 


Seed germination: Continuous light alternating warm and cool temperatures


Propagation recommendations: high seedling vigor, one year old seedlings are used for planting large areas. Sprouting is encouraged by cutting or fire injury.


Soil or medium requirements:  Poor well drained soils with partial to full sun. Adapted to Coarse and Medium Textured Soils, ph minimum 5.3 maximum 7.5

Installation form: Bare root, container, and seeds.


Recommended planting density: 300 to 1200 per acre


Care requirements after installed (water weekly, water once etc.)


Normal rate of growth or spread, lifespan: Bloom period late spring, Fruit seed period begins summer ends fall,


Sources cited:


Plants National Database


Alternative Nature Online Herbal


Data compiled by: Karen Suyama, June 2005