However, other species of the same family, like Rhus toxicodendron and Rhus vernicifera are very poisonous for humans and for animals. Because it spreads to form massive colonies, you usually do not see a single plant standing alone. Poison sumac is a type of plant that can cause an allergic skin reaction. Poison sumac fruit are creamy white and part of a cluster. If you’re exposed to poison sumac, the first step is to remove the oil from your skin. Staghorn sumac, while very common, isn’t dangerous. One such plant is poison sumac, a deciduous, woody shrub or small tree. Learn the…, Sometimes your immune system will identify a substance as harmful, even though it isn't. Poison sumac grows as a shrub, 10-25 inches (25 to 60cm) tall. You should also make a visit to your doctor if you think your rash has become infected due to scratching. Introducing "One Thing": A New Video Series, The Spruce Gardening & Plant Care Review Board, The Spruce Renovations and Repair Review Board. If the oil is inhaled, which may occur if the plant is burned, it can lead to a dangerous lung irritation. Indeed, the plants are related. The leaflets of poison sumac have smooth margins; those of staghorn sumac are toothed. Sumac is a general name for the 250 species of flowering plants in the Rhus genus. Learn tips for creating your most beautiful (and bountiful) garden ever. The twigs on poison sumac are smooth; those on staghorn sumac are covered in tiny hairs. There are many over-the-counter remedies to help with your symptoms in the meantime, including: You can also take an oatmeal bath to help relieve the itching. Whereas poison sumac is known to botanists as Toxicodendron vernix, staghorn sumac is classified as Rhus typhina. Poison ivy can be found in nearly every state, so there’s a good chance you will eventually cross paths with it. Poison sumac is dangerous and scary, but ornamental sumac is delightful (if a bit intrusive). It can cause a lot of discomfort and may even become a…, Many people have experienced an occasional skin rash or unexplained mark. Poison sumac is one of a trio of plants (poison ivy, poison sumac, and poison oak) that produce an oil called urushiol, which is a potent allergen. Poison sumac is toxic thanks to the … Moreover, they both are tall shrubs (sometimes reaching about 30 feet tall), deciduous, and native to eastern North America. The rash itself is not contagious, but the oils can be spread if they remain on the skin, clothing, or shoes. Skin contact with the oil of a poison sumac plant leads to an itchy, burning allergic skin reaction. If you do not spend any time around swamps, there is a good chance that you will never see poison sumac, even if you visit a region to which it is native, such as New England (U.S.). Inhalation of smoke from … What Does Poison Sumac Look Like? Take special care to clean under the fingernails to avoid spreading the oil to the eyes and other parts of the body. It can grow as high as thirty feet. Both plants can be responsible for a nasty rash that you wouldn’t wish upon anyone. The berries (drupes) provide the most obvious clue. Most sumac shrubs are quite harmless (nonpoisonous) and potentially desirable landscaping elements, which is another reason why you should identify poison sumac properly: There is no reason to pass up the great fall color of nonpoisonous sumac simply because they have "sumac" in their common name. Poison sumac is one of the most toxic plants in the United States, causing a horrible skin reaction that can persist for weeks. Skin contact with the oil of a poison sumac plant causes an allergic skin reaction known as contact dermatitis. Poison Sumac. Dermatitis simply means an irritation of the skin. as this could lead to an infection. Thankfully, poison sumac is much less common than poison oak and poison ivy. Not Poison Sumac. Despite these similarities, it is important to appreciate their differences. Most strikingly, they share a trait that draws much attention to them in autumn: extremely colorful fall foliage. The shape of the berries is flattish. The most widespread sumac — staghorn sumac — is non-poisonous. So learning the differences between their leaves and twigs is even more helpful. Poison sumac, Toxicodendron vernix, is related to the poison ivies and poison oaks, not to the other sumacs. Don’t wait until a reaction appears on your skin to take action; a rash could take hours to develop. Poison sumac is not edible, and like any foraged plant or ‘shroom, you should be 110% sure of what you’ve found before eating it. After all, until recently sumac, poison ivy, and poison oak were all classified under the same genus, Rhus. By contrast, the only warning to issue about staghorn sumac is that, if you want to grow it on your land as a shrub to give you great fall color, be aware that it can spread out of control via its underground rhizomes. That means it causes the same reaction as poison … Difference is, poison sumac has clusters of grayish white berries that hang down, and the plants grow exclusively in low, wet, or flooded areas such as swamps and peat bogs. Mowing of sumac is not a good control measure, since the wood is springy, resulting in jagged, sharp-pointed stumps when mown. Unlike sumac spice, poison sumac is not edible and can actually be extremely dangerous to health. These are other well-known plants that are also in the Toxicodendron genus of the sumac family. Poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac are plants that contain an irritating, oily sap called urushiol. If the rash is on the face or genitals, spreads over a large part (30–50 percent) of the body, or you have a high fever (over 101°F), see your doctor. What to do if you’re exposed to poison sumac, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Harmless sumac is almost always a tree. Poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac are all plants that can cause a temporary, irritating rash when they come in contact with your skin. While poison sumac is related to the variety of sumac that is consumed as a … Both poison sumac and staghorn sumac have compound leaves, made up of individual leaflets. Poison sumac is actually more closely related to two other rash-causing plants than it is to staghorn sumac: Poison ivy (Toxicodendron radicans) Allergic…. Some people are more sensitive to the plants and will have harsher symptoms. Poison sumac is considered the “most toxic plant in the country.” However, on a positive note, it’s also much rarer than the others. Poison sumac is actually more closely related to two other rash-causing plants than it is to staghorn sumac: Realizing that these two plants usually are found in quite different habitats is step one in distinguishing between them. A poison sumac is a plant similar to poison ivy and poison oak. Poison sumac is particularly abundant along the Mississippi River and swampy areas of the Southeast. Poison sumac is more similar to poison ivy and poison oak than it is to other sumacs. This botanical group is also called the "cashew" family, and cashew trees (Anacardium occidentale) are part of it. The sap is extremely irritating to the skin for many people and causes an itchy, painful inflammation known as contact dermatitis. Staghorn sumac is not to be confused with poison sumac. Sumac is a fairly common plant, and you were probably taught for years that it is poisonous and should be avoided. See pictures and learn about possible remedies. Approximately 250 species of sumac are known, from all of the continents, and they follow one simple, very handy generalization. When this happens, it's called an allergic reaction. Typically, they are around 4 to 5 millimetres (0.16 to 0.20 in) in size. Poison sumac (Toxicodendron vernix) is a native plant that grows exclusively in very wet or flooded soils, usually in swamps and peat bogs.Every part of the plant contains an oil that inflames skin and results in painfully itchy blisters and rashes. What are the symptoms of poison sumac rash? © 2005-2020 Healthline Media a Red Ventures Company. A poison sumac rash is an allergic reaction caused by poison sumac plant. Native to North America, sumac is a rugged, easy-to-please, good looking, useful addition to a large yard or garden. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends rinsing with rubbing alcohol, specialized poison plant washes, degreasing soap (such as dishwashing soap), or detergent, along with lots of water. belong to the same family. But poison sumac (Toxicodendron vernix) is also a small tree with leaves like regular sumac. Family Ties Between Poison Sumac and Staghorn Sumac, How to Tell Poison Sumac and Staghorn Sumac Apart, How to Remove Poison Sumac From Your Garden, 12 Trees With Brilliant Fall Color Plus Other Advantages, Growing Tips for Arrowwood Viburnum Shrubs. There are a variety of over-the-counter (OTC) treatments available for … Staghorn sumac has bright orange or red berries growing at the edge of its stems. Staghorn Sumac, like many of our favorite edibles, is technically classified as a weed! Learn more about the plant and its allergenic properties. Don’t confuse the sumac spice with poison sumac. Some bad native Sumacs or Sumac relatives that you should know about are Poison Ivy (Toxicodendron radicans, formerly Rhus radicans) and Poison Sumac (Toxicodendron vernix, formerly Rhus vernix). Some conditions that cause skin rashes are very contagious. Poison sumac (Toxicodendron vernix) grows as a large shrub or a small tree. If it surprises you that rash-causing poison sumac has family ties with a plant that bears edible nuts, be prepared to be surprised again: Mango trees (Mangifera spp.) It is relatively rare compared to the other members of the family. By contrast, if you visit New England in autumn to view the fall foliage, it would be difficult to avoid seeing staghorn sumac. It only grows in super wet areas, like bogs or swamps. Clean all contaminated clothing, shoes, and gear with detergent several times. Itching, also known as ‘pruritus’ in the medical world, can be more than a small annoyance. It can be found along the eastern and southern quadrants of the United States. It is commonly seen in the southern and eastern parts of America. Beginners at plant identification can easily confuse poison sumac and non-rash-causing types of sumac such as staghorn sumac. Symptoms of an infection include redness, pain, pus, and oozing from the blisters. A doctor may prescribe oral or strong topical steroids to help reduce inflammation. Poison sumac (Toxicodendron vernix) inhabits swamps and other wet areas as well as pinewoods and hardwood forests. The best way to prevent poison oak rash is to learn to recognize the plant and avoid contact with it. Poison sumac, poisonous shrub or small tree of the cashew family, native to eastern North America. Although it shares the same name as sumac spice, the two belong to different plant genera and share very few similarities. Poison sumac also goes by the name thunderwood in the southeastern US.. A person can be exposed to urushiol directly or by touching objects -- such as gardening tools, camping equipment, and even a pet's fur -- that have come into contact … Its scientific name is Toxicodendron vernix. Call 911 or go to a hospital emergency room immediately if your eyes swell shut or you have difficulty breathing. The most prominent feature is the clusters of bright red berries that top the trees in the late summer and early fall. Learn how to keep them safe…. Poison sumac is hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 3b through 8b. When burned, this substance is released into the air, and can cause severe lung irritation. Symptoms of a poison sumac rash appear 8–48 hours after exposure and can last for weeks. Sumac is a spice that is popular in the Middle East. Poison sumac is one of the most toxic plants in North America. Sumac is in the same family as both of those plants. To be clear: we are not talking about poison sumac here. They are packed tightly together in soft, cone-shaped tufts that grow upright. Scratching the skin can lead to an infection. Just like poison ivy, sumac also contains urushiol. Poison sumac is found in swamps, wetlands, pinewoods, and hardwood forests. It's called \"allergic contact dermatitis\" because the rash is caused by contact with a substance to which you're allergic. There is a plant called “poison sumac,” but although some people have used that name for Missouri species, it technically belongs to a plant that does not occur in Missouri. You can get the rash by coming into contact with poison sumac at any time of year, including winter. Poison Sumac, or Toxicodendron vernix, is a common North American plant that causes skin irritation to people.Like its better-known cousin poison ivy, the green leaves of poison sumac sure to put a damper on an otherwise pleasant camping trip or another outdoor excursion. Even when dried-up, their leaves and stems can cause a rash.Here are a few things that may help you recognize them: Poison ivy: It can be a vine or shrub, and it can be found throughout most of the states except in Alaska and Hawaii. The differences in toxicity in poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac are due to differences in the side chains of the chemicals in these plants. The rash-causing agent, urushiol, is the same, and it causes the same rashes. (1, 2) Image 1: A poison sumac plant with grey to ivory white fruits. Poison sumac is a plant of very wet areas. Debra Sullivan, Ph.D., MSN, R.N., CNE, COI, Everything You Need to Know About Poison Ivy, Is This Rash Contagious? There is no cure for the rash. Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or just want to hit the trail with your pup or kids, these apps will get you there. Healthline Media does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. 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