Rhus typhina L. - Winged Sumac

Rhus typhina plant

Family - Anacardiaceae

Stems - Woody, to +/-8m tall, typically with a single trunk but forming colonies from stolons, with sticky sap(sap quickly darkening with exposure to air). New seasons twigs densely pilose, tan to slightly reddish.

Leaves - Alternate, odd-pinnate, petiolate. Petiole and rachis densely pilose, slightly reddish. Petioles to +5cm long. Leaflets opposite, typically 11-31 per leaf, sessile, serrate, acute to acuminate, elliptic-lanceolate to linear-lanceolate, pubescent to glabrate and deep green above. Dull green below.

Inflorescence - Terminal thryse. Axis and branches of thryse densely pilose. Pistillate inflorescence smaller but much more dense than staminate inflorescence. Pistillate inflorescence to +11cm long(tall), +/-5cm in diameter. Branches of thryse each subtended by a long attenuate bract. Bracts to 2cm long, 2-3mm broad at base, densely pilose. Staminate inflorescence more of a pyramid shape than pistillate. Plants polygamo-dioecious.

Rhus typhina inflorescenceStaminate inflorescence.

Flowers - Petals 5, greenish-yellow, 2.1mm long, oblong to rotund, glabrous, spreading to reflexed. Sepals 5, alternating with petals, acute to acuminate, greenish. Pistillate flowers often with staminal vestiges. Style 3-parted, +/-.5mm long. Stigmas capitate, yellowish. Ovary superior, densely white pubescent.
Staminate flowers - Stamens 5, erect, exserted. Filaments whitish, +1.2mm long. Anthers yellow, 1mm long. Drupes brilliant red, pubescent, to 5mm in diameter.

Rhus typhina flowersPistillate flowers.

Rhus typhina flowersStaminate flowers.

Rhus typhina fruitsFruits.

Flowering - June - July.

Habitat - Cultivated and escaped to roadsides, disturbed sites and waste ground.

Origin - Native to eastern U.S.

Other info. - This species is becoming common in some parts of the state and can be found in the habitats mentioned above. The species quickly spreads by means of stolons and can form large colonies. The fruits of the plant persist through winter and are eaten by wildlife. The fruits are also popular with humans and can be brewed into a tea. Traditionally the tea was used for medicinal purposes.
A similar species, R. glabra L. grows wild in Missouri and is very common. R. glabra has glabrous stems, leaf petioles, and inflorescences.

Photographs taken at the Kansas City Zoo, 6-28-00.


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