sumac (Toxicodendron vernix) is a woody shrub or small tree that grows up to 20
feet tall.It bears a fruit which is a small white or grey berry, this helps distinguish
it from other sumacs which have red berries. It also has shorter leaves and fewer
leaflets as compared to other sumacs.
It may be found in wet soils (usually found in swamps and peat bogs, in the eastern
United States and Canada), whereas other sumacs prefer dry soil. It is considered
an invasive weed in the U.S.
Winged sumac (Rhus copallinum) may be easily
mistaken for poison sumac.
It is distinguished by distinctive "wings" on the leaf stem (rachis)
between the leaflets (see image to the
parts of the poison sumac plant contain urushiol (a
toxic resin) which
can cause skin and mucous membrane irritation (urushiol-induced contact dermatitis)
to humans. When burned, inhalation of the smoke may cause diarrhea and other internal
irritations. More than half the people in the U.S. are sensitive to poison
ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac.
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