Additional Information

Smooth sumac is one of the more common and easily recognized native shrubs while driving across Minnesota. Its natural habitat is open prairie but it has taken a liking to road rights-of-way, especially in the absence of fires that to some extent, once limited it’s colony sizes. It can expand fairly quickly, forming an extensive colony from root suckers. It is also a poignant seasonal indicator, being one of the first to turn brilliant red as summer segues into fall. Smooth sumac is not poisonous. In fact the red berries can be crushed into water to make a tart drink (sumac-ade), due to the high concentration of ascorbic acid (vitamin C) in the red covering over the seed clusters. Naitve Americans also used sumac leaves in the smoking mixture call kinninkinick.