Sumac vs Tree of Heaven

Staghorn Sumac is a native to Ohio and a great naturalizer plant.

sumac 2

Tree of Heaven is an invasive and extremely aggressive in growth and proliferation.

tree of heaven 1

Both Sumac and Tree of Heaven are in flower in northeast Ohio, which in fact is one of the best ways to tell them apart.

rhus ailanthis

Staghorn Sumac -Rhus typhinais an attractive wood line plant with attractive fruits

sumac fruit

and a good orange fall color. The fruit is fuzzy, starts green,

suman green flower

and turns to red. The leaves on sumac are toothed and pinnately compound. 

sumac leaf

The bud is surrounded by the leaf scar.  


The stems are densely pubescent with a firm white pith.

sumac pith

Tree of HeavenAilanthis altissimahas flower clusters that cascade out and down from the center.

tree of heaven flowers

They tend to be orange to brown.

tree of heaven flower 2

The leaves are pinnately compound but are smooth with no teeth.

tree of heaven leaf

The buds are small and sit above a large heart-shaped leaf scar. 

tree of heaven bud

The stems have a brown spongy pith.

tree of heaven pith

Both plants can grow together and may be difficult to tell apart. However, the flowers can really help if you want to keep (Sumac)

sumac 3

or pitch (Tree of Heaven).

tree of heaven 4



Tree of Heaven

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