Staghorn Sumac or “Sumach”

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Staghorn Sumac Leaf

Staghorn sumac leaves

So, I’ve evaluated two out of the three seed purchases – and discovered that I may not live long enough to see my Tamarind tree (the one I thought was a Tamarisk) make it to full maturity. Oh well, I’m all for leaving a nice legacy! I’ve also found that pampas grass is a pest I don’t want to mess with or use to contribute to the wildfire problem. Those seeds are settled into oblivion now.

That leaves the Staghorn Sumac, also known as sumach. Prized as a citrus’y spice, it’s got a reputation as a gorgeous fall foliage display, reaching over 30 feet tall in ideal conditions.

But.. lurking in the back of my head is the phrase “poison sumac.” I must admit I’ve never seen it, or known it if I did, even though it is apparently extremely  prolific.

How to tell? By sight, if it’s autumn. Poison sumac bears white berries that grow downward. Non-poison sumac bears red berries that grow upright. Poison sumac likes swampy ground; non-poison sumac likes well-drained soil. There are other clues for telling what’s poison sumac and what’s not. It seems to me, though, that staying away from swamps is a very wise idea.

So I’m planting the (non-poisonous) Staghorn Sumac soon!

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