Flowers, Fruits, and Leaves
Rhus hirta is a USA-NPN regional plant species. Regional species are ecologically or economically important but are distributed more locally than calibration species. The NPN integrates these observations to understand better plant responses within the different geographic regions of the nation.
In addition, this species is a mild allergen. Observations on its phenology will provide valuable information to benefit people with allergies and the public health community.
Rhus hirta is a deciduous, perennial shrub, commonly forming thickets, or tree that can grow to be 40 feet in height. It can grow aggressively by spreading rhizomes and by seed dispersal. The bark of staghorn sumac is thin and smooth and sometimes peels off in layers. The stems of staghorn sumac are covered in rust-colored hairs. The large, pinnately compound leaves turn a colorful red in the fall. Staghorn sumac is dioecious with male and female plants separate. The flowers on female plants are yellow-green. The fruits are cone-shaped clusters of small, red, hairy drupes that appear at the end of branches.
Rhus hirta grows on dry, rocky or gravelly soils on the edges of hardwood forests, old fields, roadsides, open woods, and disturbed sites. In some sites it is considered weedy.
The seeds and fruits of Rhus hirta are a food source for many species of birds and mammals. Deer and moose eat the leaves and twigs, and rabbits eat the bark and twigs. In addition, honeybees are attracted to its flowers. It is also used as an ornamental in low water use plantings.
You should observe...
Here are the phenophases you should observe about this plant.
||Breaking leaf buds
One or more breaking leaf buds are visible on the plant. A leaf bud is considered "breaking" once a green leaf tip is visible at the end of the bud, but before the first leaf from the bud has unfolded to expose the leaf stalk (petiole) or leaf base.
One or more live unfolded leaves are visible on the plant. A leaf is considered "unfolded" once the leaf stalk (petiole) or leaf base is visible. New small leaves may need to be bent backwards to see whether the leaf stalk or leaf base is visible. Do not include dried or dead leaves.
|Increasing leaf size
A majority of leaves on the plant have not yet reached their full size and are still growing larger. Do not include new leaves that continue to emerge at the ends of elongating stems throughout the growing season.
One or more leaves (including any that have recently fallen from the plant) have turned to their late-season colors.
One or more leaves are falling or have recently fallen from the plant.
One or more fresh flowers or flower heads (inflorescences) are visible on the plant. Flower heads include many small flowers that usually do not open all at once. Do not include wilted or dried flowers that remain on the plant, or heads whose flowers have all wilted or dried.
One or more open fresh flowers are visible on the plant. Flowers are considered "open" when the reproductive parts (male stamens or female pistils) are visible between unfolded or open flower parts. Do not include wilted or dried flowers that remain on the plant.
One or more fresh fruits are visible on the plant.
One or more ripe fruits are visible on the plant.
|Recent fruit drop
One or more fresh mature fruits or seeds have dropped or been removed from the plant since your last visit. Do not include obviously immature fruits that have dropped before ripening, such as in a heavy rain or wind.
If drought seems to be the cause of leaf color or fall for a plant, please make a comment about it for that observation.
This species has separate male and female plants. If you know whether the plant(s) you are observing are male or female (or both), please make a comment about it for that observation
Note that individuals of this species with only male flowers will not produce fruit.
USA-NPN uses the ITIS taxonomy for this plant, Rhus hirta; USDA PLANTS uses the synonym Rhus typhina.
The roots, fruits (berries), bark, flowers, and seed heads of Rhus hirta have been used by Native Americans medicinally, as food, and also for dyes. Some Native Americans sweetened the crushed berries and made a beverage very similar to lemonade. In addition, the wood of this shrub has been used for handcrafts. Staghorn sumac is native to the U.S. and is in the Anacardiaceae (sumac) family.
Gardens with this plant