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Common Plants That Look Like Poison Sumac

The terrifying poisoning risks of Poison Sumac have led to other plants that look like them being punished, even though they are harmless.

Plants like Staghorn, Smooth and Shining Sumac may look like Poison Sumac but are non-toxic and do not pose any threats. Number of leaflets, stem surface, plant mature height are some of the plant trait you can use to distinguish Poison Sumac from other plants.

Thus, continue reading till the end to learn everything you need to know about the Poison Sumac and other plants that look like them.

What Does Poison Sumac Plant Look Like?

Poison Sumac (Toxicodendron vernix) is a deciduous shrub or small tree native to the United States and eastern Canada.

Like Poison Ivy and Poison Oak, Poison Sumac belongs to the same Anacardiaceae plant family. But they do not look like each other.

The Poison Sumac plant has dark green, glossy, oblong compound leaves with a total of 7 to 13 leaflets. Also, the leaves are arranged in an alternate fashion.

With a moderate growth rate, they unfurl reddish young leaves, which gradually turn green over time.

Furthermore, each Poison Sumac leaves are almost a foot or 8 to 13 inches long. But individual leaflets are up to 4 inches long and almost 1.5 inches wide.

In ideal growing conditions, Poison Sumac can grow over 20 feet (6 meters) tall and a half feet wide main stem.

Although the leaves are hairless, stem buds of Poison Sumac have hair-like trichomes and are often copper brown or bright red.

These stems release a toxic dark sap if they sustain any cuts or damage.

Likewise, Poison Sumac produces golden yellow panicle flowers of lengths up to eight inches in Spring and Summer.

True to its name, Poison Sumac is highly poisonous and toxic to humans due to the chemical Urushiol.

Furthermore, all parts of the Poison Sumac, including flowers, fruits, leaves, bark and sap, are severely toxic.

Thus, beware of them, especially when visiting wet, swampy, flooded areas where Poison Sumac thrives the most.

If you suspect Poison Sumac poisoning, immediately contact Poison Control helpline at 1-800-222-1222.

You can use black cumin seed oil as immediate remedy to ease the pain. But aim to consult professionals before using any form of treatment.

Common Plants That Look Like Poison Sumac

Poison Sumac poisoning causes severe rashes, blisters, swelling and high fevers. So, you must avoid getting near them.

That said, there are a few plants that look like Poison Sumac but are entirely harmless.

However, despite sharing somewhat similar foliage traits, growth habit and share same plant family, you can easily tell the difference apart.

So, without further ado, here are a few plants that look like Poison Sumac but actually are not.

1. Staghorn Sumac

Despite being one of the plants that look like Poison Sumac, you can tell if the plant is Staghorn Sumac (Rhus typhina) or not via number of leaflets.

Generally, Poison Sumac leaves have 7-13 leaflets while Staghorn Sumac leaves have 11 to 31 leaflets. Also, the Staghorn leaves are saw-toothed but Poison Sumac leaves are smooth-edged.

Another distinctive trait is Poison Sumac stems are smooth and hairless but Staghorn stems are velvety and hairy.

Staghorn sumac plant that looks like Poison Sumac
Staghorn Sumac leaves are toothed.

Likewise, the average mature plant height of Staghorn Sumac is up to 30 feet or 9 meters. But Poison Sumac grows only 20 to 25 feet (6-7 meter) tall.

Lastly, the fruit of Staghorn Sumac is red in color whereas Poison Sumac has white fruits.

2. Smooth Sumac

Smooth Sumac (Rhus glabra) is one of the plants that looks like Poison Sumac.

Yet you can easily tell the difference apart via a closer look at the stem of plants. Smooth Sumac stems are covered with a whitish waxy coat but Poison Sumac has smooth stem.

Smooth sumac plant that looks like Poison Sumac
Look for stem and number of leaflet to identify if the plant is Poison Sumac or not.

Similarly, Smooth Sumac has toothed leaves with 11 to 31 long leaflets whilst Poison Sumac has 7-13 leftlets only.

3. Shining Sumac

Also known as Winged Sumac (Rhus copallina), Shining Sumac also looks somewhat same like Poison Sumac.

Similar to Staghorn Sumac, Winged leaves also has 9-23 leaflets and are up to 12 inches long.

You can also differentiate Shining Sumac from Poison Sumac via the stem. The Winged stem is covered with reddish brown hairs with U-shaped scars. Meanwhile, Poison Sumac stem has large, shield-shaped scars and are hairless.

Shining sumac plant that looks like Poison Sumac
The fruits of the Shining Sumac differs than the fruits of Poison Sumac.

Lastly, the fruits of Winged Sumac are black or red in color which is silver white for Poison Sumac.

Editor’s Note

Beware of Poison Sumac Poisoning!

Be it from direct skin contact or by indirect means, the Urushiol chemical can cause poisoning with symptoms developing within 24 to 48 hours.

Thus, do not haphazardly approach any plants that appears like Poison Sumac.

Also, if you notice one in your backyard, do not burn them as a removal method as inhalation of the smoke can also cause internal poisoning.

Beware and Stay Safe!

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