Staghorn sumac (Rhus typhina, Anacardiaceae) is a common large shrub or small tree in the northeastern United States. It’s intolerant of shade, and I frequently see it along roadways and the edges of wooded areas here in southeast Michigan. It seems like I see more and more of this plant every year. It’s probably just because I’m more aware of it, although it is known to be weedy and invasive.
The fuzzy reddish-brown branches set staghorn sumac apart from the related and more widely distributed smooth sumac (R. glabra) (Kershner et al. 2008). The large, dense, and upright clusters of small fruit are also rather distinct. In the fall the fruit and foliage both turn brilliantly red, and that’s when this plant is really noticeable.
Kershner, B., D. Mathews, G. Nelson, and R. Spellenberg. 2008. National Wildlife Federation Field Guide to Trees of North America. Sterling Publishing Company, Inc., New York, NY.