Department of Energy Argonne National Laboratory Office of Science NEWTON's Homepage NEWTON's Homepage
NEWTON, Ask A Scientist!
NEWTON Home Page NEWTON Teachers Visit Our Archives Ask A Question How To Ask A Question Question of the Week Our Expert Scientists Volunteer at NEWTON! Frequently Asked Questions Referencing NEWTON About NEWTON About Ask A Scientist Education At Argonne Herbicide for Sumac
Name: Cindi W.
Status: other
Age: 30s
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: Thursday, September 12, 2002

We have sumac growing all over our lawn and we're having trouble eliminating it. What will kill this plant and help keep it from coming back? My husband has already had a reaction to it that didn't go away for months.

There are several over-the-counter herbicides that will work on sumac and other broad leaf plants. Glyphosate is a popular choice. This is from

GLYPHOSATE (An alphatic herbicide used in Roundup and other products.)

Uses: Glyphosate may be America's favorite all-purpose weed killer. It's a nonselective herbicide, which means it kills virtually anything that is green, including annuals, perennials, grasses, sedges, broadleaf weeds, and woody plants.

How it works: When sprayed on foliage, glyphosate is readily absorbed and quickly moves throughout the plant. It disrupts amino-acid synthesis, causing white spots or streaks on leaves and eventual cell and plant death.

Toxicity to Humans and Wildlife: Some formulations of glyphosate are nearly nontoxic to humans, while others (particularly the trimethylsulfonium salt) are more dangerous if ingested. It is usually nontoxic through skin exposure, but some versions can be extremely irritating to the skin or eyes and acutely toxic through inhalation, so make sure you read the label carefully. It binds tightly to soil particles, so its leaching potential is low. Some formulations are more toxic to aquatic species than others, but in general, risk to fish is low. It's also nontoxic to honeybees and virtually nontoxic to earthworms.

EPA Rating:

Alternatives: Try better mowing techniques, mulching and weeding your garden, or spot treatment of plants with soap-based sprays.

J. Elliott

Click here to return to the Botany Archives

NEWTON is an electronic community for Science, Math, and Computer Science K-12 Educators, sponsored and operated by Argonne National Laboratory's Educational Programs, Andrew Skipor, Ph.D., Head of Educational Programs.

For assistance with NEWTON contact a System Operator (, or at Argonne's Educational Programs

Educational Programs
Building 360
9700 S. Cass Ave.
Argonne, Illinois
60439-4845, USA
Update: June 2012
Weclome To Newton

Argonne National Laboratory