Figure 98.Smooth sumac (Rhus glabra)
Mountain sumac, upland sumac, scarlet sumac, sleek sumac, white sumac, Pennsylvania sumac, shoemake, vinegar tree.
Smooth sumac occurs in dry soil thickets and waste grounds from Nova Scotia to British Columbia and south to Florida, Mississippi, and Arizona.
Although sometimes attaining the height of a small tree, the smooth sumac is more frequently found as a rather handsome shrub 2 to 12 feet high, with smooth, brownish-gray trunk and branches. Its leaves are very long from 1 to 3 feet, and consist of from 11 to 31 leaflets, each leaflet being about 2 to 4 inches in length and about half as wide, lance-shaped, pointed, sharply toothed and whitened beneath. From June to August the plant bears greenish yellow flowers in dense pyramidal clusters at the ends of the branches. These are followed by roundish, flattened fruits or berries, covered with short, crimson hairs. Each fruit contains a smooth, 1-seeded stone.
The leaves, bark, and berries, the latter being gathered while the downy covering ia still on them, which gives the berries their sour taste.