A perennial that loses its foliage in the winter, with reproduction from seeds and rhizomes. Parent plants are often surrounded by younger plants, and it is normal to find this plant growing in dense groupings. Seed pods are bright red, distinguishing this species from Poison Sumac, and these pods persist through the winter. Staghorn Sumac does not have toxic or irritating properties. A common plant along roadsides and in disturbed habitats, easily growing on nutrient-poor, dry soils. It is used as a garden plant but quickly becomes invasive into surrounding areas.
Plants can be killed with a systemic herbicide applied during the growth period. Dead plants will persist for a long period and may need to be physically removed once they are killed.