Rhus copallinum - Linnaeus
Anacardiaceae (Sumac) Family
Plant is a shrub or small tree with a short trunk and open crown. Height is no more than 25 feet with a trunk diameter of six inches. Preferred habitat is open uplands, valleys, edge of thin woods and grasslands. Distribution is throughout the Escambia region.
Leaves are compound and about 12 inches long with flat, broad wings between leaf axis (segments); lance-like and usually without teeth; slightly thickened; shiny dark green above and nearly hairless beneath.
Flowers are in a large spreading cluster at the tip of a branch; five greenish-white petals; no stalks. Flowers bear male and female (usually) on separate plants. Flowers occur in late summer.
Fruit is one-seeded that turns bright red or purple in autumn, slightly flattened; remains attached during winter.
This shrub/tree is sometimes planted as an ornamental for its shiny leaves and brilliant fruit in the autumn. The sour fruit can be eaten as a trail snack or made into a drink like lemonade. Wild birds eat the fruit and deer browse the twigs.