Michaux's Sumac / Center For Plant Conservation
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Plant Profile

Michaux's Sumac (Rhus michauxii)

This shot shows the varied fall color in the leaves of false poison sumac. Photo Credit: Rob Gardner
  • Global Rank: G2 - Imperiled
  • Legal Status: Federally Endangered
  • Family: Anacardiaceae
  • State: FL, GA, NC, SC, VA
  • Nature Serve ID: 148771
  • Lifeform: Subshrub, Shrub
  • Date Inducted in National Collection: 02/09/1992

Half of the known historical populations of Rhus michauxii have been extirpated in the last century. The few remaining populations are in a precarious position for a number of reasons, perhaps the most important of these being the species low reproductive capacity and its dependence on disturbance. The clonal nature of Rhus michauxii and the geographic isolation of the populations have led to low genetic variability. This situation is exacerbated by the fact that most of the populations do not contain plants of both sexes. The open, sunny habitat necessary for the establishment of Rhus michauxii was historically provided by fire, while today most populations are found in sites that are cleared artificially. Unfortunately these sitesroadsides, rights-of-way, railroads, agricultural fields and pine plantationsare under the constant threat of catastrophic disturbance. The status of this species depends heavily on our efforts to protect its habitat and maintain sexually reproducing populations.

Where is Michaux's Sumac (Rhus michauxii) located in the wild?


Found in the sandhills/coastal plains communities of rocky, open woods, especially in slightly loamy, well-drained soils high in magnesium. Requires full sun. (USFWS 1993)


Historically endemic to the Coastal Plain and Piedmont of the Carolinas, Georgia and Florida; today the range is disjunct, with populations in Virginia, North Carolina and Georgia (USFWS 1993).

States & Provinces:

Michaux's Sumac can be found in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia

Which CPC Partners conserve Michaux's Sumac (Rhus michauxii)?

CPC's Plant Sponsorship Program provides long term stewardship of rare plants in our National Collection. We are so grateful for all our donors who have made the Plant Sponsorship Program so successful. We are in the process of acknowledging all our wonderful plant sponsorship donors on our website. This is a work in progress and will be updated regularly.

Conservation Actions

Center for Plant Conservation
  • 12/02/2021
  • Reintroduction

As part of a mitigation plan, we transplanted a clone of the endangered Michaux’s sumac (Rhus michauxii) from an imperiled site to two lightly forested sites. Using hand trowels, we removed 96 aboveground shoots with adjacent roots and 120 m of connecting root material. We wanted to determine whether Michaux’s sumac can be successfully transplanted both from above-ground shoots with roots and from roots only, whether direct out-planting or recovery in a greenhouse prior to out-planting provided higher
survivorship, and whether transplanting is viable for mitigation. Planting above-ground shoots with roots and roots-only gave similar first-year survivorship both in the forest and in the greenhouse. Allowing plants
to recover in a greenhouse prior to out-planting gave higher survivorship after one year. After 7–8 years, the number of above-ground shoots at the two sites increased to 203 and 262, an increase of 37 and 219% respectively, indicating that transplanting is a viable option for mitigation.

Mitigating Impacts to Michaux’s Sumac (Rhus michauxii Sarg.): a Case Study of Transplanting an Endangered Shrub
CASTANEA 71(4): 265–271. DECEMBER 2006

Nature Serve Biotics
  • 05/02/2017

Endemic to the inner Coastal Plain and lower Piedmont of Virginia, Georgia, and the Carolinas (a historic collection from Florida may have been a waif). Currently, the species is known from approximately 50 extant occurrences. In 1993 a large, prolifically fruiting population was discovered on U.S. Army lands in Virginia, and the Army is now actively protecting the plants. Most extant populations are now protected and managed for. Overall, however, the species has been in decline: in the 100 years following its discovery in 1895, half of all the historic occurrences were extirpated, largely due to habitat conversion to agriculture and other uses. These threats are ongoing as are threats from the nearly universal suppression of natural fires within this species' range, geographic fragmentation and isolation of small, single-sex populations, hybridization with other species, and the potential for accidental destruction of roadside and other vulnerably situated populations.

  • 01/01/2010

Geographic isolation of small sized, single sex populations Habitat conversion to agricultural and silvicultural activities Residential and industrial development Fire suppression Mechanized military training activities (potential) Hybridizatio

  • 01/01/2010

36 populations (2 in GA, 3 in VA, 31 in NC) (North Carolina Ecological Services 2002)

  • 01/01/2010

Genetic analyses have provided information on how the current genetic variation is distributed among the extant populations. A cooperative effort between the University of Georgia, NC Nature Conservancy, and the US Fish and Wildlife Service's Asheville, NC Field Office. (Sherman-Broyles, et al 1992). Demographic studies of 14 North Carolina populations, and further research on species biology conducted by the NC Field Office of The Nature Conservancy (Savage et al. 1991). Rare and endangered plant survey of Fort Bragg, NC (Russo et al. 1993). Propagation techniques have been researched at the North Carolina Botanical Garden (Gardner 1995).

  • 01/01/2010

Reintroduction efforts at Fort Bragg (NC) as well as at historic sites in Georgia Prescribed burning is being conducted at NC Sandhills Game Lands and at Fort Bragg Restoration plans include the introduction of the alternative sex into single-sex populations, and the use of donor populations with the highest levels of genotypic diversity (as determined by genetic research, above) Material for reintroduction has been propagated by two commercial nurseries (Niche Gardens in Chapel Hill, NC and Woodlanders in Aiken, SC) (USFWS 1993)

  • 01/01/2010

It appears that research has been directing management practices appropriately. As always, continued monitoring, additional surveys, and the protection of additional suitable habitat are needed. The success of reintroduction efforts should be evaluated, as well as the efficacy and timing of burning/mowing to maintain open habitat. A primary goal of research and management should be to increase the number of sexually reproductive individuals.

  • 01/01/2010

Perform additional genetic analyses to determine effects of efforts to conserve genetic diversity.


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Taxon Rhus michauxii
Authority Sarg.
Family Anacardiaceae
CPC Number 3743
ITIS 28787
Duration Perennial
Common Names false poison sumac | Michaux's sumac
Associated Scientific Names Rhus michauxii
Distribution Historically endemic to the Coastal Plain and Piedmont of the Carolinas, Georgia and Florida; today the range is disjunct, with populations in Virginia, North Carolina and Georgia (USFWS 1993).
State Rank
State State Rank
Florida SNA
Georgia S1
North Carolina S2
South Carolina SX
Virginia S1
Ecological Relationships

Lead Institution State Reintroduction Type Year of First Outplanting
North Carolina State University North Carolina Reintroduction 1998
North Carolina State University North Carolina Reintroduction 1998
North Carolina State University North Carolina Reintroduction 1999

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