[NAFEX] Poison Sumac Question

list at ginda.us list at ginda.us
Sun May 13 11:08:26 EDT 2007

On May 13, 2007, at 9:33 AM, Jim Fruth wrote:

> Tanis,
>     I'm curious why anyone talks about treating Poison Sumac  
> because almost no one has ever seen the stuff.
>     We make a syrup out of (Red) Sumac berries and so get to talk  
> about Poison Sumac alot.  Poison Sumac grows in swamps in wet  
> places and bears white berries that hang down, unlike the red  
> berried, high ground sumacs whose berries point skyward. There is  
> so much hype about Poison Sumac that most folks think the red  
> Sumacs are poison. Out of several thousand people I have talked to  
> about this subject, absolutely zero of them have ever encountered  
> Poison Sumac. After all, how many of us like to get our feet wet by  
> trudging around in swampy places?

When I was a kid I spent a lot of time in swamps, and saw a lot of  
poison sumac.  It's very dangerous, because you are balancing on a  
floating bit of spagnum, and about to go down, and the only promising  
thing to grab in the area is the poison sumac growing on that little  
hummock to your right.

I've made "sumac-aide" from staghorn sumac, which is pleasant.  It's  
also sort of ornamental growing on the sides of highways.

On May 13, 2007, at 10:22 AM, Jim Fruth wrote:

>     Several years ago I visited Itasca State Park and pictures of  
> Poison Ivy
> and Poison Oak were displayed for public viewing.  The picture for  
> "Poison
> Oak" was really Virginia Creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia).

EEK!  they don't have anything at all in common.  How bizarre.

>     My botanical keys, Britton & Brown, lists Poison Ivy and Poison  
> Oak as
> separate species separated mostly by leaf shape.  I've seen both  
> leaf shapes
> on the same plant. From my experience, I would challenge the idea  
> of their
> being separate species. I have traveled most of these United States  
> and have
> encountered only one plant that could, perhaps, be a separate  
> species.  It
> was a California Poison Ivy that grew 12 to 15 ft. high, unlike its  
> more
> common cousin(?) that grows to about 2' high.
>     What is your experience on this subject?

My brother showed me a plant in California which he called poison oak  
which didn't look anything like poison ivy.  It might be related to  
poison ivy, but I'm certain it's a different species.  I've also  
heard the term used to describe bushier (less viney) versions what  
otherwise looks just like poison ivy, mostly in the southeast.  I'm  
pretty sure that is the same species as whatI call poison ivy.

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