Saturday, October 10, 2009

Identifying Sumac: Poisonous vs. harmless

I don't know that I have mentioned, but poisonous plants and I DO NOT get along well. DH husband used to be able to bushwhack the stuff and come out with nothing. I, however, can barely look at it without contracting it. Frankly, I'm so afraid of it now that if it is an the area then I am not. This posed an especially tricky problem this year as there was a cadre of sumac in the backyard. When I would mow, I would stay as far away from it as I could. You would not believe how well you can move a mower with just the very tips of your fingers. So I decided that I need to know if these were plants that I should be afraid of. Sumac can be both poisonous and not. I figured that you may also have to someday figure out the difference so here is what I found to help you identify the difference (please not I am not an expert and I highly recommend that you err on the side of caution unless you are 100% sure):

Where is the sumac growing? Poisonous sumac prefers damp, boggy areas. Regular sumac prefers drier areas.
What color is the stem? Poisonous is red; regular is green brown
How many leaves does each stem have? Poisonous has fewer (7-13); regular has more
What do the leaves look like? Poisonous are smooth; regular are hairy and jagged
What color are the berries? Poisonous has pale yellow / cream colored to white; regular has a red that looks more like a flower than a berry / seed
Where is the fruit growing? Poisonous grows at the base of the leaves and hang down in the fall; regular grows at the end and aim upward

This is poison sumac:


This is what is in my backyard:



I am safe.Phew! Now if I can just get rid of the Poison Ivy.






2 comments:

Denise McCoen said...

Thank you for clearing up this issue with both words and photographs. I also have learned that poison sumac is not even related to regular sumac. It is related to poison ivy and poison oak. All three of which, have the same skin irritating oil in them.

Denise McCoen said...

Thank you for clearing up this issue with both words and photographs. I also have learned that poison sumac is not even related to regular sumac. It is related to poison ivy and poison oak. All three of which, have the same skin irritating oil in them.