This section is from the book "An Illustrated Flora Of The Northern United States, Canada And The British Possessions Vol2", by Nathaniel Lord Britton, Addison Brown. Also available from Amazon: An Illustrated Flora of the Northern United States, Canada and the British Possessions. 3 Volume Set..
Shrubs or trees, with alternate mostly odd-pinnate leaves, no stipules, and small polygamous flowers in terminal panicles. Calyx 4-6-cleft or parted (commonly 5-cleft), persistent. Petals equal, imbricated, spreading. Disk annular. Stamens (in our species) 5. Pistil 1, sessile; ovary I-ovuled; styles 3, terminal. Drupe small, I-seeded, mostly subglobose, pubescent; stone smooth. Seeds inverted on a stalk that rises from the base of the ovary; cotyledons nearly flat. [Ancient Greek and Latin name; Celtic, red.]
About 125 species, natives of warm and temperate regions. Besides the following, about 6 others occur in the southern and western parts of the United States. Type species: Rhus coriaria L.
Rachis of the leaf wing-margined.
Rachis of the leaf nearly terete.
Foliage and twigs velvety-pubescent.
Foliage and twigs glabrous, glaucous.
Rhus copallina L. Sp. Pl. 266. 1753.
A shrub, or sometimes a small tree, with maximum height of about 20° and trunk diameter of 6'. Leaves pinnate, 6'-12' long, the petiole and rachis more or less pubescent; leaflets 9-21, ovate-lanceolate or oblong-lanceolate, inequilateral, acute or obtusish at each end, entire, or few-toothed toward the apex, dark green and glabrous above, paler and often pubescent beneath; rachis wing-margined between the leaflets; flowers polygamous, green, 1 1/2" broad, in dense terminal panicles; pedicels and calyx finely pubescent; drupe compressed, 2" in diameter, crimson, covered with short fine acid hairs.
In dry soil. Maine and southern Ontario to Florida, west to Minnesota, Nebraska and Texas. Not poisonous. Leaves and bark contain much tannin and are collected in large quantities in the southern States, and ground for tanning leather. Wood soft, light brown; weight per cubic foot 33 lbs. Ascends to 2600 ft. in North Carolina. Smooth or common sumac. June-Aug.
Datisca hirta L. Sp. Pl. 1037. 1753.
Rhus typhina L. Amoen. Acad. 4: 311. 1760.
Rhus hirta Sudw. Bull Torr. Club 19: 82. 1892.
A small tree, with maximum height of 400 and trunk diameter of 9', or often shrubby. Leaves pinnate, 8'-15' long; petioles, rachis and twigs more or less densely velvety-pubescent; leaflets 11-31, lanceolate or oblong-lanceolate, 3'-5' long, acuminate at the apex, rounded at the base, sharply serrate, dark green and nearly glabrous above, pale and more or less pubescent beneath; panicles terminal, dense; flowers green, polygamous, 1 1/2" broad; drupe globose, 1 1/2"-2" in diameter, very densely covered with bright crimson hairs.
In dry or rocky soil, Nova Scotia to Georgia, especially along the mountains, west to southern Ontario, South Dakota and Iowa. Wood soft, greenish-yellow; weight per cubic foot 27 lbs. Bark rich in tannin. A race with laciniate leaflets has been found in New Hampshire. June. Vinegar-tree. American, Virginia, hairy or velvet-sumac. Staghorn.
Rhus glabra L. Sp. Pl. 265. 1753.
A shrub or rarely a small tree, 2°-20° high, similar to the preceding species, but glabrous and somewhat glaucous. Leaflets 11-31, lanceolate or oblong-lanceolate, 2'-4' long, acuminate at the apex, rounded and often oblique at the base, dark green above, whitish beneath, sharply serrate, rachis not winged; pedicels sometimes slightly pubescent; inflorescence and fruit similar to those of the two preceding species; drupe covered with short reddish acid hairs.
In dry soil. Nova Scotia to Minnesota, south to Florida, Mississippi and Louisiana. Several specific names have been proposed for trivially different races of this species. Foliage sometimes used for tanning. This species and the two preceding sometimes have the whole or a part of the flower-clusters changed into small leaves. A race with laciniate leaflets (R. bipinnata Greene) occurs in southern Pennsylvania and Delaware. Pennsylvania sumac. Shoe-make. Senhalanac. Vinegar-tree. June-Aug.
Rhus glabra boreÓlis Britton, with the inflorescence and sometimes also the foliage soft-pubescent, occurring in Michigan and Minnesota, may be a hybrid with Rhus hirta.