Toxicodendron vernix

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Toxicodendron vernix
Toxicodendron vernix Gil.jpg
Photo taken by Gil Nelson
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta – Flowering plants
Class: Magnoliopsida – Dicotyledons
Order: Sapindales
Family: Anacardiaceae
Genus: Toxicodendron
Species: T. vernix
Binomial name
Toxicodendron vernix
(L.) Kuntze
TOXI VERN dist.jpg
Natural range of Toxicodendron vernix from USDA NRCS Plants Database.

Common name: Poison sumac

Taxonomic notes

Synonym: Rhus vernix Linnaeus.[1]


In Radford (1964) this species is recognized as a synonym under Rhus vernix which is where this description originated from. "Inflorescence of axillary panicles on new wood. Drupes white or gray, the mesocarp dry, shattering at maturity. Seeds grooved. Flowers proceed simultaneously with the leaves." -Radford et al 1964

"Glabrous shrub or small tree. Leaflets 7-13, elliptic oblong or oblanceolate, 5-12 cm long, 2-5 cm wide, acute to acuminate, entire, bae cuneate; rachis not winged. Panciles 3-5 in the lower leaf axils, drooping or spreading, 1-2 cm long. Drupe glabrous, 5-7 mm broad." -Radford et al 1964




Toxicodendron vernix has been documented in pine-wiregrass savannas; floodplain woodlands; swamp floodplans; mixed pinewoods; hillside bogs; swamps; bogs; low woods below dams; sphagnum shrub-bog; tamarack bog; wooded swamp; a thicket in loamy sand; and on a berm at the water's edge.[2] It has been found in disturbed habitats such as seepage areas, powerline corridors, wet thickets, cut over swamps, and roadside ditches. It has been observed in loamy sand.[2]

Associated species include Decodon, Rhododendron austrinum, Magnolia grandiflora, Myrica, Ilex, Viburnum nudum, Typha, Cornus, Lysimachia thyrsiflora, and titi.[2]


It has been observed flowering April through August and fruiting February through October.[2][3]

Diseases and parasites

"A severe contact poison causing extreme inflammation, swelling and itching in susceptible individuals." -Radford et al 1964

Conservation, cultivation, and restoration

Cultural use

The resin of Toxicodendron vernix contains a harmful skin irritant called urushiol[4] that should be avoided by all as the degree to which the irritation occurs varies between the individuals exposed.[5] All parts of this species may contain this irritant.[6][7] Symptoms of exposure generally include a rash, swelling, and blisters and may present immediately or be delayed for up to a few days.[8]

Photo Gallery

References and notes

  1. Weakley, A.S. 2015. Flora of the southern and mid-atlantic states. Working Draf of 21 May 2015. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Florida State University Robert K. Godfrey Herbarium database. URL: Last accessed: July 2015. Collectors: Loran C. Anderson, J. Nelson, Patricia Elliot, Robert K. Godfrey, Robert Kral, P. L. Redfearn, Jr., Elmer C. Prichard, R. D. Houk, T.E. Smith, S. W. Leonard, D. B. Russ, John W. Thieret, William T. Gillis, John B. Nelson, Andre F. Clewell, Roomie Wilson, W. C. Holmes, Sidney McDaniel, Delzie Demaree, N. C. Henderson, J. Richard Moore, Clyde F. Reed, F. H. Sargent, Ed Keppner, Lisa Keppner, Travis MacClendon. States and Counties: Alabama: Baldwin, Mobile. Florida: Bay, Calhoun, Clay, Franklin, Lake, Leon, Liberty, Nassau, Santa Rosa, Wakulla, Walton. Indiana: Wabash. Louisiana: Natchitoches, Rapides, Vernon, Washington. Maryland: Anne Arundel. Michigan: Ingham. Mississippi: Forrest, Harrison, Neshoba. North Carolina: Henderson. Ohio: Portage. South Carolina: Richland. Virginia: Prince William. Compiled by Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy.
  3. Nelson, G. PanFlora: Plant data for the eastern United States with emphasis on the Southeastern Coastal Plains, Florida, and the Florida Panhandle. Accessed: 19 MAY 2021
  4. Mueschner, W.C. 1957. Poisonous Plants of the United States. The Macmillan Company, New York.
  5. Mueschner, W.C. 1957. Poisonous Plants of the United States. The Macmillan Company, New York.
  6. Hardin, J.W. 1961. Poisonous Plants of North Carolina. North Carolina State College, Raleigh, North Carolina.
  7. Burrows, G.E., Tyrl, R.J. 2001. Toxic Plants of North America. Iowa State Press.
  8. Hardin, J.W., Arena, J.M. 1969. Human Poisoning from Native and Cultivated Plants. Duke University Press, Durham, North Carolina.