Florida Forestry Information
Anacardiaceae
The Sumac Family
 
The sumac family is characterized by shrubs, small trees, or woody vines, with resin ducts in the bark and/or the foliage.  The leaves are simple or odd-pinnately compound, trifoliate, alternate, and deciduous or evergreen.  The fruit of these plants is a drupe. 

Caution! The sap from the plants of the Toxicodendron genus is poisonous to susceptible individuals upon contact as are the fumes from burning parts.   

 

"Leaves of 3, let it be! Berries white, run with fright!" 
 
Click below for information on prevention and treatment of rashes from these plants:
 
 What do you do if you get a rash from these plants?

 Click on the links below for introductions to some of the plants of this family:
 
poison-ivy
poison-oak
poison sumac
 
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Toxicodendron radicans 
poison-ivy 
 
Habit 

Poison-ivy is a trailing shrub or a climbing vine if support is available.  When climbing, it attaches to the supporting implement with numerous aerial roots from the stem.  The main stems on trees often attain a diameter of 6-8 cm (2-3 inches). 

Leaves 

Leaves are compound, alternate, and deciduous.  They are trifoliate, with the petioles about the same length as the leaf blades.  The leaves are smooth with a varying amount of pubescence.  The leaf blades are ovate (oval, coming to a point).  Leaf margins are entire (no serrations), with one or more irregular lobes or coarse teeth.  Leaflets can be up to 6 inches in length and about 3 inches wide. 
 
Caution! The sap from the plants of the Toxicodendron genus is poisonous to susceptible individuals upon contact as are the fumes from burning parts.   
 
Flowers 
 
This plant is dioecious or polygamous.  Individual flowers are small with 5 petals. 
 
Fruit 
 
Fruit is a very small, smooth or pubescent, grayish-white drupe. 
 
Habitat 

Poison-ivy is found in terrestrial habitats throughout North America and Asia. 
 

Click on the link below to see more information on and/or images of this plant (use the "Back" function to return here):
 
Query the USDA Plant Database
 
 
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Toxicodendron toxicarium 
poison-oak
 
Habit 

The characteristics of poison-oak are similar to those of poison ivy.  Poison oak is a trailing shrub which reproduces by underground runners.  The stems of this plant are stiffly erect, a little under 1/4 of an inch in diameter. 
 
Leaves 

Leaves are compound, alternate, and deciduous.  They are trifoliate, with the petioles about the same length as the leaf blades.  The leaves are smooth with a varying amount of pubescence.  The leaf blades are more deeply lobed than those of poison-ivy, with 1-3 lobes on a side.  The toothing and lobing of the leaflets of poison-oak are notably oak-like.  The lower surface of the leaflets are more densely pubescent, sometimes mainly along the major veins. 

Caution! The sap from the plants of the Toxicodendron genus is poisonous to susceptible individuals upon contact as are the fumes from burning parts.   

Flowers 
 
This plant is dioecious or polygamous.  Individual flowers are small with 5 petals, similar to poison-ivy. 
 
Fruit 
 
Fruit is a very small, smooth or pubescent, grayish-white drupe, similar to poison-ivy. 
 
Habitat 

Poison-oak is found in dry upland habitats of various mixtures: longleaf pine-scrub oak ridges and hills, open pine-hardwood second-growth woodlands, open banks of highways and railways.  This plant occurs throughout North America and Asia. 
 

Click on the link below to see more information on and/or images of this plant (use the "Back" function to return here):
 
Query the USDA Plant Database
 
 
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Toxicodendron vernix 
poison sumac 
 
Habit 

Poison sumac is a deciduous shrub or small slender tree that can grow to about 20 feet in height. 
 
Leaves 

Leaves are odd-pinnately compound, alternate, and deciduous.  Each leaf contains 7 to 15 leaflets which are 2-4 inches in length.  The margins of the leaflets are entire (no serrations). 
 
Caution! The sap from the plants of the Toxicodendron genus is poisonous to susceptible individuals upon contact as are the fumes from burning parts.   
 
Flowers 
 
This plant is dioecious or polygamous.  Individual flowers are small with 5 petals, similar to poison-ivy. 
 
Fruit 
 
Fruit is a very small, smooth or pubescent, grayish-white drupe, similar to poison-ivy. 
 
Habitat 

Poison sumac is found in bogs, seepage slopes, evergreen shrub-tree bogs or bays, depressions in pine flatwoods, swamps, and wet woodlands and thickets.  This plant is found throughout the eastern United States. 
 

Click on the link below to see more information on and/or images of this tree (use the "Back" function to return here):
 
Query the USDA Plant Database
 
 
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