The soft hairy covering on the branches, resembling that on a deer's antlers when in velvet, accounts for the common name. The species name indicates the supposed resemblance of the branches to cattails (Typha). Its bark and leaves are a source of tannin, and the downy fruits are eaten by many songbirds and game birds, particularly in winter. False Poison Sumac (R. michauxii), a southern species found from Virginia to Floria, resembles a dwarf Staghorn Sumac, but its leaflets are green and downy on the underside.Patti adds:
We use it to make tea, sometimes. It makes a pinkish, lemony liquid - very refreshing. I like to make my Christmas wreath from sumac, but I feel guilty taking it away from the birds!Thank you Patti!