Hey, Maine! Not All Sumac Is Poisonous.
I came across a Facebook post with a picture of an exotic looking tree with tall, red flowery looking things and automatically recognized it from the years of living throughout the Bangor area. I recall this being sumac.
Where I live now had a few of these on my property, which I removed. After I took the time to cut it up and dispose of it I was told by a wise and life-long Mainer that it was sumac and poisonous. I freaked out and watched for hives but none came.
So, once this Facebook post came to my attention and many people were stating that it was poisonous while others were saying it wasn't, I took this as a sign to set the record straight.
... is indeed Sumac. It is more specifically called a Staghorn Sumac or Rhus typhina. It is not poisonous.
In fact, according to Wildflower.org, it is used to make a kind of lemonade drink from the crushed fruit and the leaves of this tree/shrub have also been used in smoking mixtures.
The sumac you need to be weary of is the plant closely related to poison ivy and poison oak.
Here's what Poison Sumac looks like:
Quite a difference, huh?
Poison sumac has much shorter and rounder leaves than the Staghorn Sumac. Both are shrubby and tree-like, however. But, there is quite a visual difference between the two.
Check out the video below for more about Poison Sumac as well as other poisonous plants including poison ivy and poison oak.
There you have it! The Staghorn Sumac is not poisonous and there is no need to worry if you have this on your property. It actually attracts butterflies and is used by a variety of animals for a lot of different reasons.
For more information about Poison Sumac and other poisonous plants, visit the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's web page 'Outsmarting Poison Ivy and Other Poisonous Plants'.