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Poison Sumac Legal to Share Seeds?

Posted by stoloniferous (My Page) on
Mon, Feb 11, 08 at 15:12

I have poison sumac in my yard, and while I have a healthy respect for it as a dangerous plant, Im also a bit attached to the darn thing. If you want to read the whole story, I posted about it over in the New England section. http://forums.gardenweb.com/forums/load/neweng/msg021310307824.html?4

I am reposting this over here, because I have one unanswered question: this plant is listed as a Noxious Weed, but it is also, from what I understand, a somewhat rare native. Would it be legal for me to offer its seeds to others within its native growing area?

(I dont plan to hand out the seeds to just anyone, by the way. I know how dangerous this plant is!)

Thanks!


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Poison Sumac Legal to Share Seeds?

I don't know about legalities in your area, but datura, brugmansia, and castor bean are quite poisonious and are legal to sell/swap. You will need to check with your state office. Each state is different.


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RE: Poison Sumac Legal to Share Seeds?

It is a native plant and I find it hard to believe that you could be forced to limit a native plant within it's native range. I can understand restricting it outside of the native range. I found an interesting Michigan site that has declared a noxious weed ordinance on both poison ivy and poison sumac ... despite the fact that the USDA Plants Database lists these as native to Michigan:

It shall be the duty of all owners of land upon which weeds, as defined in this ordinance, are growing ... To destroy said weeds before they reach a seed-bearing stage, and to prevent said weeds from perpetuating themselves and from becoming a detriment to public health.

Here is a link that might be useful: Michigan article


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RE: Poison Sumac Legal to Share Seeds?

Thanks for your replies, esh and ncrescue. It seems poison sumac is potentially in a very strange legal loophole! I did find that the USDA site had a link to information on poison sumac cultivation:

http://www.nativeplantnetwork.org/network/view.asp?protocol_id=349

I may get in touch with the author. . .


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RE: Poison Sumac Legal to Share Seeds?

"I found an interesting Michigan site that has declared a noxious weed ordinance on both poison ivy and poison sumac ... despite the fact that the USDA Plants Database lists these as native to Michigan:"

"It shall be the duty of all owners of land upon which weeds, as defined in this ordinance, are growing ... To destroy said weeds before they reach a seed-bearing stage, and to prevent said weeds from perpetuating themselves and from becoming a detriment to public health."

The Michigan article link is to a site suggesting how a township might want to word a noxious weed ordinance. It is not an actual ordinance. It is intended as a template for townships to use. The end of the article indicates even if used word for word it may not be what the township needs, anyway.

It would be hard to find a yard in Michigan that has not had wild carrot or ragweed (other listed weeds) in it at some time within the past 5 years. Places that might impose laws against them would be communities where everyone buys into the Chemlawn mindset, grass and grass only, no matter the work or cost. And there are a few subdivisions like that. But it is not the norm.

Michigan has poison ivy all over the place. Seeds will constantly be brought in if you have natural areas anywhere nearby. Some subdivisions, homeowners associations, etc. have covenants requiring all types of things...No cars in the drive over 2 hours, no open garage doors over 5 minutes, etc. Some include no veggie gardens, no pools, etc. in them. I wouldn't be surprised if some require no "weeds" in the yard, including poison ivy.....but most of us in Michigan do not live in such areas. And the few people I know who do, find not all of the "rules" are enforced. They are mainly there to use if there is a problem neighbor in the area....grossly unkept lawn, junk all over, etc.

I have only seen poison sumac in or very near certain types of wetlands. I'm curious to know if it would even grow for most people. It does not spread like poison ivy which grows most anywhere. And I know of two school owned nature centers that have poison sumac along bog boardwalks that students regularly use. They are told about the plant, and it is accepted as part of the natural plant community of the area. The only time the plants are bothered is when they begin to grow over the walkways. Then they are just trimmed to be about 3 feet from the walkway. I walked through one of the areas about 3 times a week for 8 years with school children and did not have problems.

Seems like people could grow poison sumac if they wanted as long as it wasn't in a public area, ie. hanging over your front sidewalk. I agree, it has it merits. The fall colors are beautiful and many birds love the fruit. In fact, maybe the one growing in your yard ended up there because a bird "planted" it...fertilized it, too. And how were you to know what it was?


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RE: Poison Sumac Legal to Share Seeds?

Interesting thread,

Ethically speaking I would only give seeds to someone who is a serious native plants collector and has a suitable environment. I'm thinking a large parcel of property where contact by other humans (especially children and pets) would be very limited or unlikely. I'd be more or less inclined to suggest they create a barrier like chicken wire around it as well.

Same can be said for water hemlock (very deadly) and even Monkshood which is commonly sold in garden centers. Beautiful but deadly.


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RE: Poison Sumac Legal to Share Seeds?

Thank you Naturegirl and Gonativegal! Indeed, I would only consider giving poison sumac seeds to someone who had a real botanical interest in the plant.

Naturegirl, thats a great story about the school-owned wetlands! I did some more looking around today, and discovered more poison sumac in another mostly-inaccessible part of my property. Im excited that it seems to be such a normal part of the landscape here, and that it does seem to stick to places too mucky for people.


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RE: Poison Sumac Legal to Share Seeds?

Thanks for the correction, naturegirl. I obviously scanned through that too quickly. I am glad it is not an actual ordinance!


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RE: Poison Sumac Legal to Share Seeds?

I'd be very interested in growing Poison Sumac. I would like to investigate the essential oil produced by this and other varieties of "noxious" weeds. The essential oil produced by these plants is potentially very interesting from a flavor and fragrance point of view. These plants have never been adequately studied and may yield some unique materials. If we can produce Bitter Almond Oil and remove the hydrocyanic acid (a deadly cyanide compound) and use the remaining oil as a natural source of benzaldehyde used in flavors, I'm confident I can remove the urushiols and possibly discover new and exciting compounds, though with my luck I'd probably wind up concentrating some even more toxic components and itch for months. :-)

Mark


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RE: Poison Sumac Legal to Share Seeds?

I still have scars on my face from Poison Sumac. In the fall, I gathered some pretty red leaves when I was 11 years old. The leaves brushed up against my face when I gathered them. I had weeping blisters all over my body.


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