staghorn sumac (Rhus typhina)

Photo by Gayla Trail  All Rights Reserved

While out on a canoe expedition, Davin and I came upon an island with a very large hill that we decided was big enough to be called a mountain. I was determined to get to the top of the mountain and enjoy the view. Thankfully I came prepared, having brought along my runners and a pair of socks in case we came upon a spot that might be worth hiking. We wore sandals in the canoe.

We did make it to the top and this beautiful, healthy sumac was what we found growing there.

I’m tentatively identifying this as a staghorn sumac (Rhus typhina) but to be honest there are so many sumacs I find it a bit overwhelming. Staghorn sumac is one of the types that can be made into a vitamin C rich drink although I have never done this and probably never will since staghorns share a family (Anacardiaceae) with cashew nuts and poison ivy. I am allergic to cashews. They won’t kill me but I get dizzy when I eat them. My vision gets blurry and my stomach becomes upset. I’m going to take a wild guess and assume that I might have a problem with poison ivy as well.

Gayla Trail
Gayla is a writer, photographer, and former graphic designer with a background in the Fine Arts, cultural criticism, and ecology. She is the author, photographer, and designer of best-selling books on gardening, cooking, and preserving.

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8 thoughts on “staghorn sumac (Rhus typhina)

  1. Mangoes are in the same family too. I had a roommate who would break out into a terrible rash if she touched the skin of a mango, so we weren’t allowed to have any in the house. It was a difficult year for me.

  2. Yes! I am also allergic to mangoes which is a tragedy given my West Indian heritage. It’s interesting how we can see the commonality between seemingly disparate allergies just by tracking the botanical relations. This family in particular seems to agitate my system more then others.

  3. Mary Ann: I didn’t realize there were cultivated sumacs that people actually grew on purpose. Here you just get one and then you work like crazy to pull that insanely deep tap root out or you’ll never be rid of it.

  4. I have a Staghorn Sumac in my back garden and I have trained it to be quite a tall tree with almost a palm tree look about it .. this year we have loads of the fruits and they are dramatically dark in colour already .. they are very pretty shrub/trees.
    Joy ^..^

  5. Has anyone seen any fair trade cashews around? I’ve heard so many stories about factory workers getting really bad dermatitis and skin infections because they’re not given protective gloves to handle the shells.

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