Staghorn Sumac Tree Facts

Updated November 21, 2016

Staghorn sumac trees (Rhus typhina) are native to eastern North America from Canada south to Georgia often growing on hillsides and mountainous rocky slopes. They are known for their brightly coloured foliage and berries in the fall. In winter, the bare fuzzy branches resemble newly growing deer antlers covered with velvet.

Growth Habit

Staghorn sumac is a fast growing tree that reaches 15 to 35 feet tall. Sometimes it forms a single 6- to 12-inch diameter trunk with an open and flat crown. Other individuals develop large spreading bushes with multiple thin stems formed from sucker branches at the base.


The 1- to 2-foot-long compound leaves of the staghorn sumac turn bright yellow, orange or crimson red in the autumn. In the summer it produces clusters of small green-white flowers that develop into colourful red berries that last until spring. The fuzzy branches provide some winter interest when the foliage has fallen.


Staghorn sumac is a relatively care free tree. It is not picky about soil or water as long as it does not remain sopping wet. It needs full sun and every few seasons can be pruned to the ground to keep it full. Single trunk specimens need to have the sucker branches around the base cut off regularly. It grows well in almost all of North America and can survive winter temperatures down to minus 4.44 degrees C.

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