Smooth Sumac

Rhus glabra

Other common name(s):


Anacardiaceae (Sumac Family)

Plant Ecoregion Distribution Map

Cross Timbers, East Central Texas Plains, Gulf Coast Prairies and Marshes, Southwestern Tablelands, Texas Blackland Prairies, Western Gulf Coastal Plain
Carbonate Cross Timbers, Eastern Cross Timbers, Grand Prairie, Limestone Cut Plain, Western Cross Timbers
Bastrop Lost Pines, Floodplains and Low Terraces2, Northern Post Oak Savanna, Northern Prairie Outliers, San Antonio Prairie, Southern Post Oak Savanna
Northern Humid Gulf Coastal Prairies, Texas-Louisiana Coastal Marshes
Canadian/Cimarron Breaks
Floodplains and Low Terraces1, Northern Blackland Prairie
Flatwoods, Floodplains and Low Terraces3, Pleistocene Fluvial Terraces, Red River Bottomlands, Southern Tertiary Uplands, Tertiary Uplands

Plant Characteristics

Growth Form






Leaf Retention




Habitat and Care Requirements

Soil Type(s)

Sand, Loam, Clay, Caliche, Well Drained, Dry

Light Requirement

Sun, Part Shade

Water Requirement


Native Habitat


Bloom and Attraction

Bloom Color

White, Yellow, Green, Brown

Bloom Season

Spring, Summer

Seasonal Interest

Berry, Fall Color, Forage, Nectar, Pollen, Larval Host, Nesting Material

Wildlife Benefit

Butterflies, Birds, Deer, Bees


This is the dominant sumac of Texas Blackland Prairies. Colonies formed by rhizomes so give lots of room. Otherwise, suckers can be pulled to control in smaller spaces. Sumacs will grow in dry waste areas where even junipers struggle. They are fast growing, generally pest and disease-free, and drought-tolerant. Good for erosion control. Propagation: Seeds, Root division.


Blooms Spring-August. Only female plants produce flowers and berries in a pyramid shaped cluster. Lance-shaped, compound leaves turn bright red and orange in the Fall. Berries consumed by birds of many kinds and small mammals, mainly in winter. Deer browse the twigs and fruit throughout the year. A good alternative to introduced Chinese Pistache. Attracts: birds and butterflies. Larval Host: Hairstreak butterfly.
Previous Scientific Name(s): Rhus borealis, Rhus calophylla, Rhus glabra var. cismontana, Rhus glabra var. laciniata, Rhus glabra var. occidentalis


1), 2), 3), 4) Wasowski and Wasowski, Native Texas Plants, Landscaping Region by Region, 1988, 1991, pg 258, 5) Griffith, Bryce, Omernick & Rodgers (2007). Ecoregions of Texas.
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About the Region

New Braunfels, the location of our Fall 2024 Symposium, straddles both the Edwards Plateau Ecoregion and the Blackland Prairie ecoregion. Interstate 35 divides the city of New Braunfels; its path through the city closely parallels the boundary of these two ecoregions, with the Edwards Plateau on the west side and the Blackland Prairies region to the east. The Edwards Plateau area is also called the Hill Country; however, this general term covers a much larger area extending farther north. Spring-fed creeks are found throughout the region; deep limestone canyons, rivers, and lakes (reservoirs) are common. Ashe juniper is perhaps the most common woody species found throughout the region. Additional woody species include various species of oak, with live oak (Quercus fusiformis) being the most common. Sycamores (Platanus occidentalis) and bald cypress (Taxodium distichum) border waterways. This area is well known for its spring wildflower displays, though they may be viewed in spring, late summer, and fall, as well. According to Texas Parks and Wildlife, average annual rainfall in the Edwards Plateau ranges from 15 to 34 inches.

The Blackland Prairie extends from the Red River south to San Antonio, bordered on the west by the Edwards Plateau and the Cross Timbers, and on the east by the Post Oak Savannah. Annual rainfall averages 30 to 40 inches, with higher averages to the east. This region is dominated by prairie species. The most common grass species include little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium) and Indian grass (Sorghastrum nutans) in the uplands and switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) in the riparian areas and drainages. Common herbaceous flowering plants include salvias, penstemons, and silphiums. This area has suffered greatly from overgrazing and agricultural use. Few intact areas remain, though many of the plants can be found along county roadsides throughout the region.

Our four host chapters (New Braunfels, Lindheimer, Guadalupe, and the Hill Country chapters) are located in one or both of the ecoregions above. However, the eastern portion of Guadalupe County also falls within the Post Oak Savanna ecoregion. Annual rainfall averages 35 to 45 inches, with higher averages to the east. A wide variety of hardwood trees are found, including several species of oaks, elms, and in the Bastrop area, loblolly pine (Pinus taeda). Grasses and forbs dominate in the open savannas, with most common grass being little bluestem. Ranching, agriculture, and fire suppression have allowed woody species to encroach on the once-open savannas.

Source: Wildflowers of Texas by Michael Eason