Index of Species Information

SPECIES:  Rhus typhina


SPECIES: Rhus typhina
AUTHORSHIP AND CITATION : Sullivan, Janet. 1994. Rhus typhina. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: [].

ABBREVIATION : RHUTYP SYNONYMS : R. hirta (L.) Sudw. [16] SCS PLANT CODE : RHTY COMMON NAMES : staghorn sumac velvet sumac vinegar tree TAXONOMY : The currently accepted scientific name for staghorn sumac is Rhus typhina L. [16]. Staghorn sumac hybrizes with smooth sumac (R. glabra); the hybrid has alternately been named R. Xpulvinata Greene [33] or R. Xborealis (Britton) Greene [12,16]. LIFE FORM : Tree, Shrub FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS : No special status OTHER STATUS : NO-ENTRY


SPECIES: Rhus typhina
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION : The native range of staghorn sumac extends from Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, southern Quebec, and Maine; west to southern Ontario, northern Michigan, and northern Minnesota; south to central Iowa, central Illinois, western Tennessee, and northern Alabama; and east to northern Georgia, northwestern South Carolina, Maryland, and New Jersey [25]. ECOSYSTEMS : FRES10 White - red - jack pine FRES13 Loblolly - shortleaf pine FRES14 Oak - pine FRES15 Oak - hickory FRES18 Maple - beech - birch FRES19 Aspen - birch STATES : AL CT DE GA IL IN IA KY ME MD MA MI MN NH NJ NY NC OH PA RI SC TN VT VA WV WI NB NS ON PE PQ BLM PHYSIOGRAPHIC REGIONS : NO-ENTRY KUCHLER PLANT ASSOCIATIONS : K095 Great Lakes pine forest K100 Oak - hickory forest K102 Beech - maple forest K103 Mixed mesophytic forest K104 Appalachian oak forest K106 Northern hardwoods K110 Northeastern oak - pine forest K111 Oak - hickory - pine forest K112 Southern mixed forest SAF COVER TYPES : 15 Red pine 16 Aspen 18 Paper birch 20 White pine - northern red oak - red maple 21 Eastern white pine 22 White pine - hemlock 23 Eastern hemlock 24 Hemlock - yellow birch 25 Sugar maple - beech - yellow birch 26 Sugar maple - basswood 27 Sugar maple 52 White oak - black oak - northern red oak 53 White oak 55 Northern red oak 60 Beech - sugar maple 64 Sassafras - persimmon 78 Virginia pine - oak 80 Loblolly pine - shortleaf pine 81 Loblolly pine 82 Loblolly pine - hardwood SRM (RANGELAND) COVER TYPES : NO-ENTRY HABITAT TYPES AND PLANT COMMUNITIES : Staghorn sumac is primarily a species of forest edges and disturbed sites. It occurs on the edges of many forest types, and is a frequent member of early oldfield communities, particularly on dry soils.


SPECIES: Rhus typhina
WOOD PRODUCTS VALUE : Staghorn sumac wood has been used for handcrafts [4]. IMPORTANCE TO LIVESTOCK AND WILDLIFE : Staghorn sumac seeds and fruits are eaten by many species of upland gamebirds, songbirds [4], and mammals [45]. White-tailed deer [11] and moose [19] browse the leaves and twigs. The bark and twigs are eaten by rabbits, especially in winter [8]. PALATABILITY : Staghorn sumac was listed as a high preference browse for moose on Isle Royale, Michigan [22]. In southern and central Wisconsin [30] and Minnesota [11] staghorn sumac was listed as fifth in preference for white-tailed deer. In New York staghorn sumac fruits were lowest in preference (of blackberry (Rubus allegheniensis), gray dogwood (Cornus racemosa), arrow-wood (Viburnum dentatum), and common buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica) for birds [15]. NUTRITIONAL VALUE : Nutritional values for staghorn sumac fruits (seeds and fruits ground together) have been reported as follows [41]: percent of fresh weight moisture 8 crude protein 5.0 crude fiber 13.37 lignin 19.92 tannin 4.06 cellulose 25.29 Northern bobwhites failed to thrive on a diet consisting solely of staghorn sumac fruits [41]. COVER VALUE : Staghorn sumac is planted for wildlife cover in the Northern Great Plains [14]. VALUE FOR REHABILITATION OF DISTURBED SITES : In Maryland and West Virginia, staghorn sumac occurred on strip-mined sites reclaimed to herbaceous annuals and perennials. The frequency of staghorn sumac on the sites was positively correlated with its relative abundance in the adjacent forest edge [20]. On a site in New Hampshire, the vegetation and upper soil layers were removed to create a sand pit. Much of the site was left to revegetate naturally; staghorn sumac presence was noted in a survey conducted 11 years after the site was abandoned [5]. OTHER USES AND VALUES : Staghorn sumac is planted as an ornamental [8], particularly for low water-use plantings (xeriscaping) [18], although its habit of producing root sprouts is detrimental to lawn maintenance [14]. The infructescence of staghorn sumac is used to make a beverage and jelly [9,40]. OTHER MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : Staghorn sumac is sometimes a troublesome invader of cleared sites. It was reported as abundant in clearcuts, but was not present in the understory of intact pine (Pinus spp.) plantations in the Great Lakes States. It was also absent from the germinable seedbank of the intact plantations [1].


SPECIES: Rhus typhina
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS : Staghorn sumac is a native, deciduous tall shrub or small tree growing up to 40 feet (13.7 m) in height [3,16]. The trunk is usually short, dividing frequently to form ascending branches [6]. Younger branches, petioles, and leaf-rachis are densely and softly hirsute [16]. Each leaf is composed of 9 to 29 leaflets that are lanceolate to narrowly oblong, 2 to 4.7 inches (5-12 cm) long [12,16]. Leaves are only produced on new branch segments; old branches do not bear leaves [7]. The fruit is a drupe 0.08 to 0.2 inch (2-5 mm) broad, covered with long, spreading, red hairs, in dense, cone-shaped clusters [8,9,12]. The bark is thin and nearly smooth, but sometimes peels off in layers [4]. RAUNKIAER LIFE FORM : Phanerophyte Geophyte REGENERATION PROCESSES : Sexual reproduction: Staghorn sumac generally produces at least some seed every year [3]. Over the 4 years of a phenology study in West Virginia, there were no staghorn sumac crop failures. The author rated staghorn sumac as one of the most consistent seed bearers [31]. Colonies that produce seed do so in abundance [26]. Seeds exhibit dormancy, probably as a result of hard, impermeable seedcoats [3]. Staghorn sumac seeds were present (intact) in the buried seedbank of an oldfield site in Virginia [37]. However, staghorn sumac probably invades new areas via bird-dispersed seed rather than from the seedbank [1,15]. Germination of staghorn sumac seeds is enhanced by acid scarification or hot water treatment [3]. In a greenhouse study on the effects of the amount and kinds of litter on seed germination, it was reported that the amount, type, or relative composition of litter (needlelike vs. lamellar leaves) did not significantly affect the number of staghorn sumac seedlings that emerged [32]. Vegetative reproduction: Staghorn sumac forms large, dense colonies via root sprouts [6,40]. This appears to be the mode of reproduction that results in the largest number of stems; the colonies usually originate, however, from a single seed [27,29]. Staghorn sumac is dioecious, and large, single-sexed clumps of stems can form [26]. Within female clumps within a staghorn sumac population there was a greater incidence of dead and vegetative trunks than within male clumps (the clumps were assumed to be clones) [7]. Female trunks, however, grow at the same rate as male trunks. Female trunks within a clone may draw on the resources of other, nonfruiting trunks to which they are linked by underground connections [7]. Root sprout production in staghorn sumac is apparently stimulated by top-damage; large numbers of sprouts emerged from staghorn sumac colonies that were top-damaged by frost in Kentucky [27]. SITE CHARACTERISTICS : Staghorn sumac occurs on dry, rocky or gravelly soils, in old fields, clearings, roadsides, forest edges, and open woods [6,33,40,44]. Staghorn sumac is found at elevations ranging from 100 to 2,000 feet (30-610 m) in the Adirondack Mountains, New York [44], and at elevations up to 4,900 feet (1500 m) in the Appalachians [8]. SUCCESSIONAL STATUS : Obligate Initial Community Species Staghorn sumac is not tolerant of shade. In Massachusetts its occurrence in woodlands is associated with irregular open canopies and/or sites in or adjacent to light gaps [2]. It is a common invader of recently abandoned fields [15,24]. Staghorn sumac clone interiors can reduce light intensity up to 90 percent. This creates a situation where new staghorn sumac stems from root sprouts are unlikely to thrive, and where ground-layer herbs are also inhibited. Only shade-tolerant species are able to colonize dense staghorn sumac thickets [27]. In Michigan a staghorn sumac colony came to dominate two oldfield sites that had thick ground-layer perennials including quackgrass (Elytrigia repens). As staghorn sumac stems matured and the canopy closed, ground-layer species decreased. At this point (7-10 years after abandonment) numerous tree species began to invade the site. Of the 13 species observed, 9 tended to establish under staghorn sumac cover and overall hardwood seedling density was highest under staghorn sumac cover. It was hypothesized by the authors that staghorn sumac facilitates succession by reducing the amount of ground cover, thus allowing tree seedlings to establish [42]. On roadbank sites in northern Kentucky, staghorn sumac reduced the growth of crownvetch (Coronilla varis) and tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea). These sites were subsequently invaded by Amur honeysuckle (Lonicera maackii), but not other tree species. The authors acknowledge that succession on sites as highly disturbed as roadside embankments is not likely to be a good model for oldfield or other types of secondary succession [28]. SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT : Staghorn sumac flowers from May to July, depending on latitude [8,16]. The fruits are usually ripe by September and persist on the tree through the winter [6,17,31,44].


SPECIES: Rhus typhina
FIRE ECOLOGY OR ADAPTATIONS : Staghorn sumac has no apparent adaptations for fire resistance; it is probably easily top-killed or killed by fire due to its thin bark. Adaptations for fire survival include sprouting from the roots when top-killed. In addition, staghorn sumac seeds are apparently somewhat resistant to high temperatures and may be stimulated to germinate by fire. It does not appear exclusively (or even with great frequency) in fire-dependent communities [29], but it does occasionally occur these communities. In Vermont, pitch pine (Pinus rigida) communities dominate cutover areas, and are maintained by fire. Where fire is suppressed, gray birch (Betula populifolia) cover increases at the expense of pitch pine. Staghorn sumac was found in low numbers on a 12-year-old clearcut dominated by gray birch, red maple (Acer rubrum), mapleleaf viburnum (Viburnum acerifolium), American hazel (Corylus americanum), myrica (Myrica spp.), and blueridge blueberry (Vaccinium vaccilans). It was therefore present in either the preharvest community or in an adjacent community [21]. POSTFIRE REGENERATION STRATEGY : Tree with adventitious-bud root crown/soboliferous species root sucker


SPECIES: Rhus typhina
IMMEDIATE FIRE EFFECT ON PLANT : Staghorn sumac is probably killed or top-killed by most fires. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF FIRE EFFECT : NO-ENTRY PLANT RESPONSE TO FIRE : Staghorn sumac may sprout immediately after fire. Skutch [46] observed a staghorn sumac shoot 4.3 inches (11 cm) long within 20 days of a wildfire in a spruce (Picea spp.)-hardwood stand in Maine. In Michigan staghorn sumac had its highest frequency indices in postfire years 3 and 51 of a longitudinal study. Bigtooth aspen (Populus grandidentata) was the early dominant tree species, and was eventually replaced by red maple (Acer rubrum) and eastern white pine (Pinus strobus). Northern red oak (Quercus rubra) and paper birch (Betula papyrifera) also increased in the later years of the study [36]. Marks [29] observed abundant staghorn sumac seedlings in northern New York on sites where logging slash piles had been burned. He noted that the sites had not contained any adult staghorn sumac stems prior to harvest, but that staghorn sumac seed sources did exist within 0.37 mile (0.6 km) of the burns. Staghorn sumac had been present early in oldfield succession, but had apparently died out. Staghorn sumac seedlings were restricted to the burned areas, most of them concentrated on the edges; the centers of the slash piles had experienced extreme heat. According to Marks, staghorn sumac germination appeared to have been either directly triggered by the fire or by the fire's effect on the site [29]. Given the impermeability of the seedcoat, coupled with the fact that heat treatments will enhance germination, it seems possible that staghorn sumac seeds were scarified by the fire. High heat in the centers of slash piles probably killed seeds. In central New York staghorn sumac was a dominant shrub in an Acer-Betula-Aster community that established after heavy logging followed by a severe fire [43]. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF PLANT RESPONSE : NO-ENTRY FIRE MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : NO-ENTRY


SPECIES: Rhus typhina
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