prairie sumac
Rhus lanceolata

Secondary Names:
flameleaf sumac, prairie flameleaf sumac

Leaf Type: Deciduous
Texas Native:
Tree Description:

A shrub or small tree to 20 feet tall and one or more trunks to 8" in diameter, with irregular branching that forms a loose, rounded crown of shiny green foliage.

Range/Site Description:

Disturbed sites, fencerows, and rocky limestone slopes in Central Texas, from the Balcones Escarpment north and west to the mountains of the Trans-Pecos.


Branches, twigs, and leaves without prickles or thorns; leaves are alternate, once-compound, 5" to 9" long, with 11 to 21 leaflets and a weakly-winged rachis ; leaflets 1" to 3" long and up to 0.5" wide, lanceolate, the margins mostly without teeth. Leaves turn bright shades of yellow, orange, and red in the fall.


A tight spike of white flowers, 4" to 6" long, appears in spring at the ends of the branches.


A conical cluster of small, dark red, berry-like drupes, each about 0.2" in diameter with minute hairs.


Smooth, gray-brown, developing horizontal lenticels that break up on larger trunks into scaly plates and rough fissures.


Sold in nurseries as a native landscape specimen for its fall color.

Similar Species:

Winged sumac (Rhus coppalinum) occurs in East Texas and has a strongly-winged leaf rachis and wider leaflets.

Interesting Facts:

The leaves were used as a replacement for oak bark in tanning, and the fruit can be used to make a beverage called, "sumac-ade" or "rhus-ade."

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