08, 2005 19:43 PDT
Fall has arrived here in Western Pennsylvania. Some of the trees
changing to fall colors. Others are going from green to
This had been a drought year and it looks like the fall colors
suppressed. One exception to the lack of color is the Staghorn
Every year without fail, sumac exhibits brilliant colors. Not
just red in
color, but intense fluorescent reds and pinks, mixed with
oranges. For most of the year these shrub size bushes are passed
much notice. They are in the corner of your mind, but not really
With the brilliant fall colors these normally inauspicious trees
jump to the
center of attention. There are hundreds of them along the short
my home to work. Most are clumps of clonal trees, some 10 feet
stretching gangling stems to heights of twenty feet or more.
Sumac at Cook Forest State Park
I guess I have a soft spot for "unwanted trees." Sumac
extends across the
entirety of Eastern United States. It grows along roadways,
tracks, on strip mines, in old fields, and in areas where the
soil has been
disturbed. It is a first colonizer of many of these areas, but
is still ephemeral. The sumac trees grow for just a short time
dying. Only in unusual circumstances do they persist for more
than a few
years. The sumac occasionally will grow as a single stem, but
it will form a clump of stems. The sumac trees rhizomatous, with
wide spreading roots. Clonal colonies grow from root sprouts and
dome shaped clump of genetically identical trees.
The ephemeral nature of the tree is one of its attractions for
Rucker wrote: Re: Thresholds for sport and science Oct
Some trees, like staghorn sumac, spring up on a roadside cut,
and die while
still dominant in their restricted domain. They seem almost
eager to die.
Still other staghorns, in a better soil, do live much longer. Of
without someone to run interference for them, they'd be
overtopped on a rich
site. I saw several old, thick-barked specimens arching over a
fence behind a McDonalds - their crowns had no competition, and
in good soil, were kept cool, and protected from drought.
I looked on our website to see how large of a staghorn sumac has
documented by ENTS. There are only three listed on the website
measured. I don't have a copy of the entire dataset.
Tallest Trees in the East
Staghorn sumac Rhus typhina
x 32.9'i 1' 2.5" Md.
Chase Creek Woods (site 3)(P), Arnold, Anne
Arundel Co. (tree died 1988) Rucker 4/19/87
x 20.4'g 0' 9.5" Md.
Chase Creek Woods (site 3)(P), Arnold, Anne
Arundel Co. (tree fell August 2003) Rucker 8/3/01
The only other measurement listed was taken by Cark Harting and
Cook Forest in Sept 2005:
height 28.5 cbh 1.9 feet CFSP-River/Troutman
Run Rd. 09/12/05
Sumac being strangled by vine
lists the tree as being measured by pole, actually it was
laser/clinometer from a crotch in the trunk and the distance
from the crotch
to the ground was measured by tape. Since the other two
have died --- I guess that make this the current ENTS champion.
photos of one of the trunks of the sumac being strangled by a
vine on that
page, and a shot of the clump itself on the staghorn sumac page:
It is the thickest
trunk I have seen on a sumac personally, although some others
the highways near here may be taller.
If any of you are interested there are numerous WebPages on the
discussing staghorn sumac. Two of them I found interesting were
And another one by an individual interested in Sumac:
The descriptions in these web documents suggest that while the
commonly forms clumps 10 to 15 feet high, they can reach heights
of 40 feet,
and diameters of 15 inches. There is significant potential to
size of the sumac from Cook Forest. So if anyone is interested
here is a
much under-measured tree in our dataset.
24, 2005 18:21 PDT
Have you eaten their fuzzy red seeds yet? They taste like fuzzy
flavored grape-nuts. They're actually quite high in Vitamin C.
folks will make a tea out of them. They're one of my most
28, 2005 18:49 PDT
Jess, Will, and ENTS,
There was some joking about my Sumac post. I looked on the
site for what it says is the National champion using its
Staghorn Sumac Rhus typhina
Location: Camp Hill, AL
Circumference: 50 inches
Height: 61 feet
Spread: 20 feet
Most Recent Measurement: 1985
Nominator/s: Ted Kretschmann
That isn't a tiny bush. I wonder if it is still standing as it
measured last in 1985. It would be interesting to get a good
of the tree if it is still alive. I wonder how old it is if
01, 2005 15:57 PST
Staghorn sumac is a rare species in Alabama, so I suspect the
tree has been misidentified. Tree-of-heaven (Ailanthus altissima)
an ostensibly similar, exotic species that has widely
the southeast, and commonly reaches dimensions similar to those
by AFA. I'm curious how large the species can actually grow.
13, 2005 04:20 PST
Here is the 1993 listed co champ staghorn sumacs
1987 43"circ at 42" 29'tall 30'
avg spd Clearfield county 1125 main st, DuBois
1988 34"cbh 43'tall 27'
avg spd Luzerne county end of flat rd. 250 yds
NE on the Susquehanna river dike in Plymouth
If anyone is near these trees, we could use a remeasure.
of PA Champion: Staghorn sumac
16, 2005 12:54 PST
I went to check out the PA Champion Staghorn Sumac listed in the
1993 list at 1125 S. Main Street, Dubois, PA. The current owners
of the property were not home, but I spoke to a neighbor. He
remembered the tree in the back yard of the home, and even
remembered it being measured. He held out his hands to indicate
a diameter approximating the listed circumference of 43."
He told me it was the biggest Sumac he had ever seen.
Unfortunately the tree is dead. He said it first spilt, and was
later blown over by the wind, and removed. So Scott, you can add
this to the listing for a State historical champion - the listed
numbers are reasonable, and likely were correct. That leaves the
tree in Luzerne County yet to be confirmed or eliminated. Its
numbers also seem to be reasonable... I will send you some other
measures soon as nominees in case it also is gone or otherwise
should be removed from the listings.