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sumac male or female

Posted by c2g 6 (My Page) on
Thu, Sep 5, 13 at 8:50

So I had a volunteer staghorn sumac sprout up a year ago and I decided to keep it around. It's now about 15' tall and aside from having an appreciation for sumacs this time of year, it gave us somewhat of an instant privacy screen. I kind of like the layering it gives by branching above the serviceberry and button bush below.

After a year of growing, there are no fruit clumps. Is it safe to assume at this point that it's a male? I figure if I'm going to keep up on a sumac, it may as well be a female, so I'll replace it this fall unless there's a chance it can still be female.

(btw, an excavated pond is in the foreground and in between the button bush and sweetbay is going to be a mini vernal pool runoff area.)


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: sumac male or female

The first question to ask is did it flower? Never any fruit without a flower as both males and females need to flower.


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RE: sumac male or female

  • Posted by c2g 6 (My Page) on
    Thu, Sep 5, 13 at 11:18

I don't recall seeing any flowering.


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RE: sumac male or female

Then yes there is still a chance that it is female.


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RE: sumac male or female

You're sure it's sumac, and not Ailanthus?
I can't tell from the photo, but none of the sumacs here would have a single trunk that tall without some lower branching.


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RE: sumac male or female

Oh lucky_p, good point!! It is rather tall and unbranched, isn't it?

Check this link out - near the bottom are excellent leaf scar pictures and in my opinion is the best way to tell right now (without fruit or flowers) what you have. Pull off a leaf to get a fresh scar to examine.

Of course if you pull off the leaf then you have that to look at too and that can be quite distinctive ... :)

Here is a link that might be useful: Differences


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RE: sumac male or female

The other plants next to it have the same growth habit; I'm guessing they are shaded. See that brilliant fleck of color in the branches? Premature senescence, and an aspect shared by many sumacs.


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RE: sumac male or female

  • Posted by beng z6 western MD (My Page) on
    Fri, Sep 6, 13 at 10:21

Lucky, partially-shaded smooth sumacs near my lot are much taller & skinnier than typical.


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RE: sumac male or female

When you're done checking out the leaf give it a crushing... If it stinks and makes you want to immediately wash the smell off your hands, then it's alianthus. I think it's sumac though. I have several with the single stem look. They grow quickly, kind of like..... weeds?
Jk, I keep mine for the same reason, near instant privacy along the fence while other stuff fills in.


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