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Rhus typhina - L.

Common Name Stag's Horn Sumach, Velvet Sumac, Staghorn Sumac
Family Anacardiaceae
USDA hardiness 4-8
Known Hazards There are some suggestions that the sap of this species can cause a skin rash in susceptible people, but this has not been substantiated. See also notes in 'Cultivation Details'.
Habitats Usually found in upland sites on rich soils, but it is also found in gravel and sandy nutrient-poor soils. It grows by streams and swamps, along roadsides, railway embankments and edges of woods[229].
Range Eastern N. America - New Brunswick to the southern Appalachian mountains and west to Iowa.
Edibility Rating    (4 of 5)
Other Uses    (3 of 5)
Weed Potential Yes
Medicinal Rating    (2 of 5)
Care
Fully Hardy Well drained soil Moist Soil Full sun
Rhus typhina Stag


http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Daniel_Fuchs
Rhus typhina Stag
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Summary

Bloom Color: Yellow. Main Bloom Time: Early spring, Late spring, Mid spring. Form: Oval, Upright or erect.


Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of shrub
Rhus typhina is a deciduous Shrub growing to 6 m (19ft) by 6 m (19ft) at a fast rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 3 and is not frost tender. It is in flower from June to August, and the seeds ripen from October to December. The species is dioecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but only one sex is to be found on any one plant so both male and female plants must be grown if seed is required). and is pollinated by Bees. The plant is not self-fertile.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in nutritionally poor soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers dry or moist soil and can tolerate drought. The plant can tolerates strong winds but not maritime exposure.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map

Synonyms

R. hirta. non Engl. R. viridiflora.

Habitats

Woodland Garden Secondary; Sunny Edge; Dappled Shade; Hedge;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Fruit  Oil
Edible Uses: Drink  Oil

Fruit - cooked[22, 62]. A very sour flavour, they are used in pies[183]. The fruit is rather small and with very little flesh, but it is produced in quite large clusters and so is easily harvested. When soaked for 10 - 30 minutes in hot or cold water it makes a very refreshing lemonade-like drink (without any fizz of course)[55, 85, 95. 101, 102, 183]. The mixture should not be boiled since this will release tannic acids and make the drink astringent.

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.
Antihaemorrhoidal  Antiseptic  Astringent  Blood purifier  Diuretic  Emetic  Galactogogue  Poultice  
Stomachic  Tonic  VD  Warts

Stag's horn sumach was often employed medicinally by several native North American Indian tribes who valued it especially for its astringent qualities[257]. It is little used in modern herbalism. Some caution is advised in the use of the leaves and stems of this plant, see the notes above on toxicity. The bark is antiseptic, astringent, galactogogue and tonic[222, 257]. An infusion is used in the treatment of diarrhoea, fevers, piles, general debility, uterine prolapse etc[213, 222]. An infusion is also said to greatly increase the milk flow of a nursing mother - small pieces of the wood were also eaten for this purpose[257]. The inner bark is said to be a valuable remedy for piles[257]. The roots are astringent, blood purifier, diuretic and emetic[222]. An infusion of the roots, combined with purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) has been used in the treatment of venereal disease[257]. A poultice of the roots has been used to treat boils[257]. The leaves are astringent. They have been used in the treatment of asthma, diarrhoea and stomatosis[222]. An infusion of the fruits has been used as a tonic to improve the appetite and as a treatment for diarrhoea[257]. The berries are astringent and blood purifier[257]. They were chewed as a remedy for bed-wetting[222, 257]. A tea made from the berries has been used to treat sore throats[213]. The flowers are astringent and stomachic. An infusion has been used to treat stomach pains[257]. The sap has been applied externally as a treatment of warts[226]. Some caution is advised here since the sap can cause a rash on many people[K].

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Other Uses

Dye  Hedge  Hedge  Ink  Mordant  Musical  Oil  Pipes  Shelterbelt  Soil stabilization  Tannin  Wood

The leaves are rich in tannin, up to 48% has been obtained in a controlled plantation[223]. They can be collected as they fall in the autumn and used as a brown dye or as a mordant[169, 171]. The bark, especially the root bark, and the fruits are also very rich in tannin[82, 159, 169]. A yellow dye can be obtained from the roots[257]. An orange dye can be obtained from the inner bark and central pith of the stem, mixed with bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis)[257]. A black ink can be made by boiling the leaves and the fruit[226]. An oil is extracted from the seeds[4]. It attains a tallow-like consistency on standing and is used to make candles. These burn brilliantly, though they emit a pungent smoke[4]. Pipes are made from the young shoots and are used for drawing the sap of sugar maples (Acer spp)[82]. They are also used as flutes[159]. The plant has an extensive root system and is planted as a windbreak screen and to prevent soil erosion[200]. Wood - soft, light, brittle, coarse grained[82, 101]. It weighs 27lb per cubic foot[235]. Of no commercial value, though it is sometimes used as a rough construction wood or is employed in turning[226].

Cultivation details

Landscape Uses:Border, Massing, Specimen. Succeeds in a well-drained fertile soil in full sun[11, 200]. Tolerates poor soils[169, 200]. Succeeds in dry soils and is drought resistant once it is established[169]. A fairly wind hardy plant, though the branches are brittle and can be broken off in very high winds[200, K]. A very hardy plant, when fully dormant it can tolerate temperatures down to at least -25°c[200]. However, the young growth in spring can be damaged by late frosts. A fast growing but short-lived tree[159], it can sucker freely, forming thickets and becoming quite anti-social when grown in small areas[11]. Single-stem plants are short-lived in cultivation, but if the plants are coppiced regularly and allowed to form thickets, then they will live longer and also be more ornamental with larger leaves[238]. Any coppicing is best carried out in early spring[238]. A very ornamental plant, there are some named varieties[182]. It is susceptible to coral spot fungus[11] but is notably resistant to honey fungus[88, 200]. It transplants easily[169]. This is a very good bee plant, the flowers producing an abundance of pollen and nectar[226]. There is some doubt over the validity of this name and the earlier R. hirta. [L.] has been proposed as the correct name. However, it seems likely that R. typhina will be retained because it is so well known[214]. This species is closely related to and hybridizes with R. glabra[101]. Many of the species in this genus are highly toxic and can also cause severe irritation to the skin of some people, whilst other species such as this one are not poisonous. It is relatively simple to distinguish which is which, the poisonous species have axillary panicles and smooth fruits whilst non-poisonous species have compound terminal panicles and fruits covered with acid crimson hairs[1, 4]. The toxic species are sometimes separated into their own genus, Toxicodendron, by some botanists[200]. Dioecious. Male and female plants must be grown if seed is required. Special Features: Attracts birds, North American native, Attractive flowers or blooms. For polyculture design as well as the above-ground architecture (form - tree, shrub etc. and size shown above) information on the habit and root pattern is also useful and given here if available. The plant growth habit is a running thicket former forming a colony from shoots away from the crown spreading indefinitely [1-2].

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Propagation

Seed - best sown in a cold frame as soon as it is ripe. Pre-soak the seed for 24 hours in hot water (starting at a temperature of 80 - 90c and allowing it to cool) prior to sowing in order to leach out any germination inhibitors[200]. This soak water can be drunk and has a delicious lemon-flavour. The stored seed also needs hot water treatment and can be sown in early spring in a cold frame[200]. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, 10cm with a heel, July/August in a frame[200]. Root cuttings 4cm long taken in December and potted up vertically in a greenhouse. Good percentage[78, 200]. Suckers in late autumn to winter[200].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameEdibility RatingMedicinal Rating
Rhus ambigua 00
Rhus aromaticaLemon Sumach, Fragrant sumac42
Rhus chinensisChinese Gall, Chinese sumac23
Rhus copallinaDwarf Sumach, Winged sumac, Flameleaf Sumac, Winged Sumac, Shining Sumac42
Rhus coriariaElm-Leaved Sumach, Sicilian sumac21
Rhus diversilobaWestern Poison Oak, Pacific poison oak02
Rhus glabraSmooth Sumach43
Rhus integrifoliaLemonade Berry, Lemonade sumac20
Rhus microphyllaDesert Sumach, Littleleaf sumac20
Rhus ovataSugar Bush, Sugar sumac21
Rhus potaninii 02
Rhus punjabensis 32
Rhus punjabensis sinica 32
Rhus radicansPoison Ivy01
Rhus sempervirens 21
Rhus succedaneaWax Tree12
Rhus sylvestris 00
Rhus toxicodendronEastern Poison Oak02
Rhus trichocarpa 00
Rhus trilobataSkunk Bush, Basketbush, Squawbush, Three Leaf Sumac42
Rhus vernixPoison Sumach01
Rhus wallichii 01
Rhus x pulvinata 42

 

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Author

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Botanical References

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Readers comment

Chris   Thu May 1 21:57:01 2003

be careful and make sure not to confuse this with poison sumac, which, if injested, may kill you

Val Boothman   Sun Oct 7 2007

Extremely interesting but I am trying to find out how to treat a slightly damaged bark. Do you know what I should apply and should I bandage it. I need to act before winter frost. Val Boothman

Ethan Descoteau   Sat Mar 22 2008

i may have missed it, but i don't think you mentioned it's use as a smoking herb. the taste and aroma is rich, mellow, and full. natives smoked the red leaves (they turn in fall)...the redder the mellower, the greener the tangier the smoke. i do not often smoke for pleasure, but i must say semi dried leaves are truly a delight to puff on. ...and yes, don't confuse with poison sumac... the (major) difference is poison sumac has white berries, not red. poison sumac contains the same allergen that poison ivy and poison oaks do.

phil   Thu Jul 31 2008

i have Rhus typhina (stags horn) and the leafs have wilted and died the tree is still sending out suckers, is the tree dying?

P.MASTERS   Tue Aug 5 2008

HOW THE HELL DO YOU STOP IT SPREADING AS IT IS COMING UP ALL OVER THE LAWN

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