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Walk The Trail: Quincy Salt Marsh TrailStop 14

Staghorn Sumac - Rhus typhina

This tree can be easily recognized by its hairy twigs and leafstalks and fuzzy red fruit clusters. Its name comes from the fact that the branches of this shrub bear a marked resemblance to a deer "in velvet" and can be most noticeably observed during the winter months. The very similar Smooth Sumac (Rhus glabra) also grows along the trail, and while it has the same feather-shaped toothed leaves, the stems are smooth and hairless.

The bark and leaves are rich in tannin, and it is reported that a black ink can be made by boiling leaves and fruit. Birds, pheasant, and skunk feed on the long-haired fruit, while rabbits chew on the twigs.

Sumac can grow in rather poor soil and can fast obliterate the scars of man. During the fall the leaves of this shrub (or small tree) turn bright red and purple, covering parts of the upland with thickets of color.


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