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Smooth Sumac

Common Name: Smooth Sumac[1]

Scientific Name: Rhus glabra

Thomas Jefferson lists it as an ornamental native species in his Notes on the State of Virginia.[2]

Smooth Sumac, a native of Eastern North America from Quebec to Georgia, has been in cultivation since the early 17th century. It arrived in Britain around 1726.[3]

Smooth Sumac is a deciduous, North American shrub that forms brilliant scarlet, plume-like fruit clusters on the female plants. The glabrous leaves turn an intense red or orange-red in autumn.

Primary Source References[4]

1786 January 17. (Jefferson to John Bartram Jr.). "Inclosed is a list of plants and seeds which I should be very glad to obtain from America for a friend here whom I wish much to oblige...Rhus glabrum..."[5]


  1. This section is based on a Center for Historic Plants Information Sheet.
  2. Notes ed. Peden, 41.
  3. Alice M. Coats, Garden Shrubs and their Histories (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1992), 167.
  4. Please note that this list should not be considered comprehensive.
  5. Betts, Garden Book, 109-110.

Further Sources


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