Wednesday, April 14, 2010

SUMAC

A large family of trees and shrub related to the Cashews, that are native to many parts of the world both tropical and temperate. Sumacs have many purposes but the most common in the wild is as erosion controlling nurse trees that colonize bare sites and provide shelter for future forest trees.
The berries of some of the Sumacs listed below make an excellent Tea which is made by boiling the Sumac berries for 30 minutes then flavoring them with Sugar to make a refreshing red lemonade. Species of the related Toxicodendron genus ( see separate article ) are NOT edible though may look similar to Rhus.
Propagation is from seed which germinate best after a treatment consisting of pouring boiling water over the seeds and leaving them to soak and cool for 2 1/2 days or soaking for 1 hour in sulfuric acid. Both these treatment soften the extremely hard seed shell making sprouting easier. Many species can also be grown from root cuttings taken during early spring then placed in sandy soil. Most Sumacs like lots of water and fertilizer during the growing season while preferring little during the winter. Sun and well drained soil is a must for most.
Older plants of many species of Sumac can be rejuvenated by cutting to ground during very early spring. Most species of Sumac will resprout after fire.

Rhus aromatica ( Fragrant Sumac )
An extremely attractive, dense suckering, spreading deciduous shrub reaching around 7 feet that is native to eastern North America ( from South Dakota to to southeast Minnesota to southern Wisconsin to Mio, Michigan to Cape Croker, Ontario to Bracebridge, Ontario to northern Vermont; south to central Texas to far northern Florida...it is also abundant on Manitoulin Island, Ontario and along the Ottawa River from Chalk River to Ottawa, Ontario ). In the Windsor/Essex County, Ontario region; it was very abundant in dry woods and sand dunes at Point Pelee, the Lake Erie islands as well as the Ohio shore during the 1800s. At Point Pelee; it grew very densely on the sand dunes on the west beach making for a very efficient sand binder along with Juniperus communis which also occurred there. Some records include: fastest recorded growth rate - 4 feet; 10 years - 10 x 17 feet; largest on record - 13 x 33 feet.
The trifoliate, aromatic leaves are composed of 3 toothed, oval leaflets up to 4.5 x 3 inches. The foliage is glossy and very deep green in summer turning to brilliant orange, scarlet and purple in autumn.
The small yellow flowers are borne in panicles in spring along with the emerging foliage.
The flowers are followed by persistant, round red berries in September which can last into February.
Hardy zones 2 to 8 tolerating as low as -50 F. Thrives in sun or partial shade.
Tolerant of drought, clay, pure sand, pollution and salt air. Not eaten by deer. A very low maintenance plant that is rarely bothered by insect pests or disease.

* photo taken on April 22 2010 in Howard County, MD

* photo taken on July 4 2010 @ U.S. National Arboretum, D.C.

* photo taken on 4th of July 2010 in Washington, D.C.

* photos taken on Aug 3 2010 @ Univ. of Guelph Arboretum, Ontario



* photo taken on Aug 3 2012 in London, Ontario

* photos taken on July 30 2013 of Fragrant Sumac as a dominant woodland understory shrub within the rare Great Lakes sand dunes ecosystem as seen in Grand Bend, Ontario

* USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database / Herman, D.E., et al. 1996. North Dakota tree handbook


'Green Globe'
A dense, rounded female clone, reaching up to 7 x 16 feet in size.

'Gro Low'
A very fast growing, low growing clone that is excellent as a ground cover, especially on sand dunes. It is spreading in habit and usually stays lower than 3 feet though one especially vigorous plant was recorded to grow to 4 x 10 feet in 5 years. Older plants can spread as much as regular Rhus aromatica.

* photo taken on Oct 2001 @ Green Springs Gardens, Alexandria, VA

* photo taken on Aug 3 2012 in London, Ontario

* photo taken on Apr 28 2017 in Ellicott City, MD

* photo taken on July 17 2017 in Ottawa, ON

* photos taken on Aug 13 2017 in Columbia, MD


'Konza'
A tall upright form. Reaches up to 10 x 13 feet in 10 years.

Rhus chinensis ( Chinese Sumac )
A rapid growing, rounded, small tree reaching around 20 feet in height, that is a widespread native from India through most of China ( except Manchuria ), Korea & Japan; south into Malaysia. Some records include: fastest recorded growth rate - 10 feet; 15 years - 27 x 17 feet; largest on record - 30 x 40 feet with a trunk diameter of 2 feet.
The pinnate leaves are up to 2 feet in length and are composed of 7 to 13 toothed leaflets up to 8 x 4 inches in size. The foliage is luxuriant green in summer and turns to scarlet in autumn just like related Rhus copallina.
The creamy-white flowers are borne in panicles up to 10 inches in length during late summer. They are followed in autumn by small orange berries.
The bark is smooth and light gray.
Hardy zones 5 to 8 ( variation in hardiness but clones from Manchuria might be even more cold hardy ); this Sumac is not as well behaved as some of the others and should only be planted in a wide open area where its suckering will annoy. Tolerates dry sandy sites as well as clay as long as it is well drained.

* photo taken on May 8 2010 @ U.S. National Arboretum, D.C.

* photo taken on 4th of July 2010 @ U.S. National Arboretum, D.C.


* photos taken on October 17 2010 @ U.S. National Arboretum, D.C.





* photo taken on Sep 3 2012 in Harford Co., MD

* historic archive photo


'September Beauty'
Larger flower clusters, up to 16 x 16 inches in size, otherwise similar.

Rhus chirindensis ( Red Sumac )
A fast growing tree to 60 feet that is native to South Africa. Some records include: fastest recorded growth rate - 3.5 feet; largest on record - 82 x 60feet with a trunk diameter of 4.5 feet.
The leaves are composed of 3 leaflets up to 5 inches in length.
The foliage is red when young, turning to shiny deep green above and white below in summer then to an excellent red fall color.
Hardy north to zone 9 ( tolerating 20 F ) having non invasive roots.

Rhus choriophylla ( Mearns Sumac )
A moderate growing, large evergreen shrub or rarely small tree native to the southwest from central Arizona to New Mexico; south to northwest Mexico. The largest on record - 20 x 20 feet with a trunk diameter of 1 foot.
The evergreen foliage is composed of 3 to 7 deep green leaflets up to 2 x 1 inches in size.
The flowers are borne in clusters up to 2.5 inches and are followed by red berries.

Rhus copallina ( Shining Sumac )
An upright fast growing large shrub or tree to around 15 feet or more, that is native to eastern North America ( from southeast Nebraska to central Wisconsin to central Michigan to London, Ontario to Long Point, Ontario to southern New York State to northern Vermont to southern Maine; south to eastern Texas to southern Florida...it is also found from Belleville to Perth and Brockville in eastern Ontario ). It was abundant at Detroit, Michigan as well as the Ojibway Prairie in Windsor and the Ohio shore during the 1800s but has declined considerably since. It also likely occurred at least sporadically in southern Essex County in Ontario at that time. Some records include: fastest recorded growth rate - 4 feet; 8 years - 17 feet; 10 years - 22 x 10 feet; largest on record - 55 x 40 feet with a trunk diameter of 1.3 foot; largest in Colorado - 38 x 28 feet. The Shining Sumac can live up to 50 years. A 5 gallon size saleable plant can be produced in just a single season.
The pinnate leaves up to 16 inches in length are composed of 9 to 23 oblong, smooth edged leaflets up to 5 x 2 inches in size. The leaves have a winged rachis, are extremely glossy deep green during summer turning to bright scarlet-red during autumn. The Shining Sumac is definately one of my favorite native foliage plants, attractive in the wild and attractive in the landscape.
The small yellowish flowers are produced on dense, upright panicles up to 8 inches in length at the ends of the shoots in summer.
They are followed in autumn by drooping panicles of round, bright red berries that can sometimes last until March.
The bark is light brown, thin and scaly.
Hardy zones 2 to 9 in full sun to partial shade on most soils sand or clay. It is tolerant of drought and salt breezes.

* photo taken on 4th of July 2010 @ U.S. National Arboretum, D.C.

* photos taken on August 3 2010 @ University of Guelph Arboretum, Ontario





* photo taken on October 17 2010 @ U.S. National Arboretum, D.C.

* photos taken on July 9 2013 in Elkridge, MD

* photo taken @ U.S. Botanical Garden, Wash., DC on Aug 25 2014

* photos taken on Oct 21 2014 @ U.S. Botanical Gardens, Washington, DC

* photos taken Aug 2016 @ Patuxent Research Refuge, Laurel, MD

* photos taken on Sep 18 2016 @ Patuxent Research Refuge, Laurel, MD

* photos taken on Nov 5 2016 in Annapolis, MD

* photo taken on Apr 23 2017 @ Brookside Gardens, Wheaton, MD

* photo taken on Aug 5 2017 @ Brookside Gardens, Wheaton, MD


'Lanham's Purple'
Glossy purple spring and summer foliage turning intense glowing scarlet red in autumn.. This selection originates in Kentucky. It is similar in habit to the species.
Hardy zones 4 to 9.

* photos taken on Aug 5 2017 @ Brookside Gardens, Wheaton, MD


'Prairie Flame'
A compact dwarf form, reaching only 7 feet in height but can still spread by suckering. It is among the best low maintenance shrubs for large scale commercial sites in Midwestern North America, with fall color rivalling the best Burningbush Euonymus(s). It is great for use in parking lot islands.
The glossy deep green foliage turns intense glowing orange and red during autumn. It is a male form that does not produce seed.

* photos taken on Aug 5 2017 @ Brookside Gardens, Wheaton, MD


Rhus coriaria ( Tanner's Sumac )
A deciduous, rounded, large shrub or small tree, reaching up to 23 feet, that is native to southern Europe and the Mediterranean. It is frequently cultivated in Tashkent, Uzbeckestan, where it is also native. The largest on record is 33 feet, typically about half that. The pinnate leaves, up to 12 inches, are composed of 7 to 21 ( averaging 15 ) toothed, oblong or ovate leaflets each up to 3 ( rarely over 2 ) inches in length.
The small flowers are packed into panicles, up to 10 inches in length, during early to mid summer.
They are followed by rounded, wine-red fruits up to 0.3 inches wide.
Hardy zones 8a to 10.

* photo of unknown source on internet

* excellent video found on youtube


Rhus glabra ( Smooth Sumac )
A moderate growing, bushy, spreading shrub or small tree reaching around 15 feet or more, that is a widespread native of North America ( from the Vancouver area to Wells Gray Provincial Park near Revelstoke, British Columbia to extreme southwest Alberta to south-central Montana to eastern Saskatchewan to central Manitoba to Red Lake, Ontario to Thunder Bay, Ontario and Michigan's Upper Peninsula to Batchewana to Grand Bend, Ontario to Orillia to Trenton, Ontario to far southeast Quebec to central Maine; south to central Texas to central Georgia...as well as scattered in the Rocky Mountains from central British Columbia and south ). It is also found native locally in northern Ontario at Bass Lake, Aberdeen Twp near Sault Ste Marie and is abundant on Manitoulin Island. In the Windsor/Essex County, Ontario region; it was abundant along the Canard River Valley as well as the Lake Erie islands and the Ohio shore during the 1800s. It was also abundant in dry woods at Detroit during that time. Some records include: 20 years - 20 x 20 feet; largest on record - 52 x 28 feet with a trunk diameter of 1 foot. In the wild with its main purpose being a colonizer providing shade for future hardwood forests, the Smooth Sumac usually only lives to around 20 years or sometimes more. The wood is brittle but this is rarely a problem on a tree that is usually not large enough to cause much damage if it fell. The Smooth Sumac will also easily grow back if it is cut to the ground in late winter.
The pinnate leaves, up to 18 inches in length, are composed of 11 to 31 toothed leaflets up to 4.5 x 1.2 inches in size. The foliage is deep blue-green above, whitish beneath, turning rich red during autumn.
The small, greenish red flowers are borne in dense, upright panicles up to 10 inches in length during summer.
They are followed on female plants by persistant, round, hairy berries that turn scarlet red when ripe. The fruits are very rich in vitamin C and make a great beverage. They can also be used for pie filling and jellies.
The stems are bronze colored with a whitish bloom.
They are smooth unlike the similar looking Rhus typhina whose stems are rough and felted.
Hardy zones 2 to 9 in full sun, being most vigorous on rich, sandy, well drained soil but growing just about anywhere that doesn't flood. The Smooth Sumac is very drought, heat, pollution and salt tolerant.
The bark is thin and care should be taken as it can easily be injured by mowers, deer and mice which can all kill by girdling. Trunk wrap in winter is recommended on this and any tree which might be damaged by bark eating rodents during winter. This tree is easy to reproduce from seed but does germinate faster with the seed being bathed in acid for 6 hours before sowing.

* photo taken on June 18 2016 in Annapolis, MD

* photos taken on Aug 5 2017 @ Brookside Gardens, Wheaton, MD

* photo taken by Jean Pawek @ CalPhotos

* photo taken by http://www.nwplants.com

* photos of unknown internet source


* USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database / Herman, D.E., et al. 1996. North Dakota tree handbook

* photo taken by Clarence A. Rechenthin @ USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database

* historic archive photo


'Flavescens'
Foliage turns yellow in fall. The fruit is also yellow.

'Laciniata'
Very rate. Has deeply cut ferny leaflets. Prone to reverting to regular Rhus glabra.

Rhus integrifolia ( Lemonade Sumac )
A fast growing, evergreen large shrub or tree to around 20 feet that is native to southern California. Some records include: largest on record - 35 x 32 feet with a trunk diameter of 3.5 feet. It is great as a residential landscape plant or for covering banks.
The simple, elliptic, evergreen leaves, up to 3 x 1.5 inches, are usually smooth edged though sometimes with a toothed margin. The attractive foliage is glossy mid-green above, pale green beneath.
The small white or pink flowers are packed into panicles that appear during spring.
The flowers are followed by deep red berries up to 0.4 inches wide. The fruits can be used to make a tasty drink, hence the name Lemonade Sumac.
Hardy zones 8 to 11 tolerating as low as 8 F; growing in regions with 13 to 32 inches of average rainfall per year. An excellent landscape plant in California where it is even moderately fireproof. May be slow to establish.

* excellent video found on internet


Rhus kearneyi ( Kearns Sumac )
A small evergreen tree reaching around 14 feet that is native to southwest Arizona and the Baja Peninsula. The largest on record is 20 x 16 feet.
The simple leaves are up to 2.2 x 1.2 inches and are smooth and leathery.
Hardy zones 9 to 11 and both very tolerant of heat and drought.

Rhus lancea ( Willow Rhus )
A very attractive, fast growing, dense evergreen tree growing to around 30 feet that is native to south Africa. Some records include: fastest recorded growth rate - 3 feet; largest on record - 40 x 61 feet with a trunk diameter of 4 feet.
The leaves are composed of 3 lance-shaped leaflets, up to 6 x 0.6 inches in size, that are smooth to sometimes tooth-edged. The foliage is deep green above and paler below.
The tiny yellow green flowers are packed into dense panicles during late summer.
They are followed by shiny brown berries, up to 0.2 inches wide.
Hardy zones 8 to 11 in full sun to partial shade, it is very tolerant of drought and lime. The roots on this Sumac are not aggressive. It thrives especially well in much of California.

* photo of unknown source on internet


Rhus lanceolata ( Prairie Flameleaf Sumac )
A fast growing large shrub to small tree typically reaching around 15 feet that is closely related to Rhus copallina but with narrower leaflets. It is native to the south central U.S. from central New Mexico to central Oklahoma, south into Mexico.
Some records include: fastest recorded growth rate - 6 feet; largest on record - 35 x 36 feet with a trunk diameter of 1.9 feet.
The leaves, up to 9 inches in length, are composed of up to 21 extremely shiny, narrow leaflets up to 6 x 0.5 inches in size. They are blue green in summer turning scarlet-red in autumn.
Hardy north to zone 5 and very tolerant of drought.

Rhus laurina ( Laurel Sumac )
A fast growing evergreen large shrub reaching up to 15 feet that is native from central California to the Baja Peninsula. Some records include: largest on record - 20 x 23 feet with a trunk diameter of 6 inches.
It has simple, shiny luxuriant foliage all year. The leaves are up to 4 x 2 inches in size.
The greenish-white flowers are borne on dense panicles.
They are followed by white fruits.
Hardy north to zone 9. Prefers soil PH from 6 to 8 and thrives where annual rainfall is from 12 to 31 inches. Extremely heat and drought tolerant. The Laural Sumac is not generally bothered by pests or disease.

* excellent video found on youtube


Rhus lentii ( Pink Flowering Sumac )
A very attractive, fast growing, dense, upright, evergreen large shrub to 10 x 12 ( rarely over 8 ) feet, that is native to Cedros Island and Baja California. It makes a great informal hedge.
The attractive, simple leaves are oval to rounded. The leaves are blue-green with a yellow-green midrib.
The intense mid-pink flowers are borne on terminal clusters during spring. The flowers attract hummingbirds.
Hardy zones 7 to 10 ( tolerating 0 F ) in full sun to partial shade on well drained soil. Drought tolerant. May be slow to establish.

Rhus lucida
An evergreen tree growing to around 16 feet that is native to coastal areas of southern Africa. Some records include: largest on record - 24 x 12 feet.
The leaves are composed of 3 lance shape, smooth edged leaflets that are up to 3 inches in length. The foliage is glossy, deep green above and paler below.
The tiny creamy white flowers are packed into panicles up to 3 inches in length in spring. The flower panicles appear at the ends of the branches and in the leaf axils.
They are followed by small, shiny brown berries.
Hardy zones 8 to 11 and very drought tolerant.

Rhus michauxii ( Michaux Sumac )
A rare, low suckering shrub that is very useful as a groundcover that is native to dry sand dunes in the Appalatian region from Virginia to Georgia, in the eastern U.S. The largest on record is only 3.5 x 15 feet. It is nearly extinct in the wild and continues to decline from habitat destruction.
The leaves are composed of up to 15 leaflets, up to 4 inches in length. The leaflets are coarsely-toothed.
The foliage is glossy deep green in summer turning to scarlet-red lasting over a long period during autumn.
The yellow flowers, packed into panicles up to 8 inches in length, are borne during early summer.
Only males plants produce seeds which are red, Michaux Sumac is not having difficulty reproducing in the wild since many of the remaining native stands are clonal and of a single sex.
Hardy zones 5 to 7 in full sun on very well drained soil. It is an extremely tough plant that should be much more widely planted. Very drought tolerant and even tolerates pure sand. The seed is very hard to germinate, the highest percentage occurs after sulfuric acid has been poured over seeds and allowed to weaken and dissolve the seed coat.

* photo of unknown internet source

* historic archive photo


Rhus microphylla ( Littleleaf Sumac )
An arching, large deciduous shrub, reaching up to 10 x 15 feet, that is native to the southwestern U.S. ( from southern Arizona to central New Mexico to southwest Oklahoma; south into Mexico ). Some records include: largest on record - 16 x 20 feet with a trunk diameter of 0.4 feet, fastest growth rate - 2 feet.
The pinnate leaves, up to 2 inches in length, are composed of 5 to 9 lance-shaped or elliptical leaflets, up to 1.2 inches in length. The foliage is bright green at first, turning to deep green during summer then finally orange-red during autumn.
The greenish-white flower panicles, up to 3 inches wide, appear during mid-spring at the same tips before or as the foliage emerges.
They are followed by persistent red berries, up to 0.25 inches wide, borne on clusters up to 4 inches in length, ripening during late summer. Both male and female plants need to be in close proximity for berry production. The edible fruits are very tasty.
The stems are spine tipped.
Hardy zones 6 to 10 ( tolerating -10 F ) in full sun to partial shade on just about any well drained soil. Extremely heat and drought tolerant however looks better with a weekly deep watering during summer.

* photos taken @ U.S. Botanical Garden, Wash., DC on Aug 25 2014


Rhus ovata ( Sugar Sumac )
A moderate to fast growing, domed, large shrub or small tree to 20 feet or more that is native from central California to central Arizona, south into the Baja Peninsula. Some records include: fastest recorded growth rate - 3 feet; largest on record - 34 x 36 feet with a trunk diameter of 2 feet. It makes a great screen or windbreak.
The evergreen, simple, leathery, smooth-edged, ovate leaves are up to 4 x 2 inches in size. The attractive, strongly aromatic foliage is glossy, deep green throughout the year.
The small, pale yellow flowers are borne on dense small spikes. The flowers attract hummingbirds and butterflies.
They are followed by small, deep red fruits, up to 0.3 inches wide, that are sugary and excellent for use in making a lemonade-like drink.
The bark is reddish-brown.
Hardy zones 6 to 10 ( however seed source is important in colder regions ) in sun or shade. Also protection is needed in the first year when it is only hardy to 25 F; during the second year it is hardy to 10 F then at maturity this tree is much more hardy to - 10 F though may become deciduous during harsh winters. May be slow to establish. Very drought tolerant and with occasional deep watering, can even become an excellent landscape tree in Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona. Older plants can be cut back hard to renovate.

* photo taken by Jean Pawek @ CalPhotos

* photo taken by C. Ray Clar and the Marian Koshland Bioscience and Natural Resources Library

* photo taken by Albert Everett Wieslander and the Marian Koshland Bioscience and Natural Resources Library


Rhus pendulina ( White Karree )
Also called Rhus viminalis. A very fast growing, semi-pendulous, semi-evergreen to evergreen tree, reaching up to 50 x 50 ( rarely over 33 ) feet, that is native to southern Africa. It is very graceful and similar in habit to the Weeping Willow. It makes a great shade tree and its roots are not aggressive.
The compound leaves are composed of 3 lance to narrow-elliptical leaflets, up to 3.6 x 0.6 inches. The foliage is glossy bright green.
The flowers are tiny and green.
Female trees only produce edible, small berries, up to 0.1 inches, that are green, ripening to red then drying to black.
The bark is smooth, later becoming flaking on older trees.
Hardy zone 9, thriving in full sun. Tolerant of severe drought and wind though occasional deep watering is preferred for younger trees.
Propagation is from seed or cuttings.

* photos of unknown internet source



Rhus potanini ( Chinese Varnish Tree )
A deciduous, small tree reaching up to around 50 feet, that is native from southwest to central China. Some records include: fastest recorded growth rate - 10 feet; largest on record - 80 x 25 feet with a trunk diameter of 2.5 feet. it thrives in England where trees up to 60 feet already occur.
The pinnate leaves up to 16 inches in length are composed of 9 to 11 leaflets up to 6 x 1.8 inches in size. The foliage turns intense scarlet-red during autumn.
The white flowers are borne on pendulous panicles up to 8 inches in length, during early summer.
They are followed by red berries, up to 0.2 inches wide, during mid-summer to mid-autumn.
Hardy zones 5 to 9, it is very heat tolerant as well as pollution tolerant.

* photo taken on October 17 2010 @ U.S. National Arboretum, D.C.

* photo taken on Feb 8 2014 @ U.S. National Arboretum, DC


Rhus punjabensis ( Punjab Sumac )
A very fast growing, small tree, reaching a maximum height of 50 feet, that is native to mountain woodland from Kashmir and northern India to Tibet and central China. Some records include: 12 years - 33 feet with a trunk diameter of 9 inches.
The pinnate leaves, up to 15 inches in length, are composed of 7 to 13 smooth-edged, oblong, leaflets, up to 5 x 1.8 inches in size.
The white flowers are borne on panicles up to 8 inches in length, during early summer.
They are followed by purplish-red berries.
Hardy zones 7 to 9.

Rhus trichocarpum ( Mountain Lacquer Tree )
Also called Toxicodendron trichocarpa. A slow growing, handsome small tree to 40 feet that is native to the Kuril Islands, eastern China, Korea and most of Japan. Some record include: fastest recorded growth rate - 4 feet; 20 years - 20 x 13 feet; largest on record - 50 x 40 feet with a trunk diameter of 20 inches. This Sumac has strong branches and can live to 45 years or more.
The pinnate leaves up to 30 inches are composed of 13 to 17 taper-pointed ovate leaflets up to 6 x 2 inches in size. The very downy leaflets are coppery to reddish at first, turning to downy matte deep green during summer. The foliage turns to orange-red during autumn.
The tiny yellowish flowers are borne on hanging, conical panicles up to 12 inches in length that originate from the leaf axils during early summer.
They are followed by small, orange prickly fruit, up to 0.3 inches wide, that may cause allergic reaction.
The branches are smooth and yellowish. The stems exude a milky sap. The bark is light gray-brown with conspicuous lenticals.
Hardy zones 4 to 9 and thriving on both continental climates as well as more maritime ones such as in the British Isles. It is also tolerant of clay. This Sumac is grown as a tree and should be pruned to a single leader and feathered when young. Pruning is best done in March.

* historic archive photo


Rhus trilobata ( Skunkbush Sumac )
Also called Squaw Bush. A fast growing, dense, rounded, large deciduous shrub reaching around 10 feet that is native to western North America ( from central Alberta & central Saskatchewan to far northwest Iowa; south into northern Mexico ). Some records include: 10 years - 12 x 13 feet; largest on record - 13 x 30 feet. The Skunkbush Sumac resprouts prolifically after being cut to ground or after fire, reaching up to 4o inches in a season. It is a great plant for landscaping and erosion control.
The very beautiful foliage is trifoliate ( composed of 3 leaflets ) with each leaflet being up to 2 inches in length. The leaflets are toothed and are hairy in spring then glossy deep green in summer, turning very beautiful scarlet-red and orange late in autumn.
The tiny, bright yellow-green flowers are borne on showy, rounded clusters, up to 0.6 inches wide, during mid-spring before the foliage emerges.
They are followed by clusters of 0.2 inch wide, round red berries that usually ripen during late summer. The berries can be used to make a tea however people with sensitivity distant relative Poison Ivy should not drink the tea ( however the foliage on this Sumac is safe to touch ).
Hardy zones 2 to 9; it is very tolerant of drought, windy sites and alkaline soils. It grows in dry regions with 10 to 20 inches of yearly precip ( similar Rhus aromatica grows in wetter regions of the east ) however does not grow in flood prone areas.
Tough and rugged, this Sumac lives in excess of 30 years.

* photo taken on Oct 21 2014 @ U.S. Botanical Gardens, Washington, DC

* USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database / Herman, D.E., et al. 1996. North Dakota tree handbook

* photos taken by Jean Pawek @ CalPhotos


'Autumn Amber'
A low, spreading, groundcover form, reaching only 1.5 x 8 + feet in size.
Unlike regular Rhus trilobata, the glossy green foliage turns deep orange-yellow during late autumn.
Hardy zones 4 to 8.

'Konza'
More resistant to leaf spot than species; otherwise very similar.

Rhus typhina ( Staghorn Sumac )
A large shrub or small tree depending on site that is native to eastern North America ( from northern Minnesota to Michigan's Upper Peninsula to Chapleau, Ontario to Haileybury, Ontario to Saguenay, Quebec to Cape Breton, Nova Scotia; south to Tennessee to western North Carolina to northern Virginia ). It was abundant and widespread in the Windsor, ON / Detroit, MI metropolitan region area as well as the Ohio shore both before the settlement era and currently. Staghorn Sumac has also naturalized in parts of central Europe. It is typically fast growing reaching up to 20 feet though is sometimes much larger. Some records include: fastest recorded growth rate - 7 feet; 20 years - 50 x 40 feet; largest on record - 66 x 42 feet with a trunk diameter of 1.5 feet. A tree 16 inches in diameter was recorded at Kelly's Island on Lake Erie during the 1890s. An extremely large Staghorn is known to grow in Tuscaloosa Co., Alabama. The Staghorn Sumac is generally a colonizer tree, 60 years is about its maximum lifespan.
The pinnate leaves, up to 24 or rarely 40 inches in length, are composed of 13 to 31 leaflets. The lance to oblong, sharply-toothed leaflets are up to 6 x 2 inches in size. The foliage is deep green above and blue green beneath; turning to scarlet-red during autumn. The foliage is downy in spring becoming smooth in summer.
The small, yellow green flowers are borne in dense, conical, upright panicles up to 10 inches in length at the ends of the shoots during summer. They are followed by persistent, scarlet red, felted fruits in autumn.
The shoots are thick and velvety resembling the antlers of deer, unlike similar looking Rhus glabra.
The Staghorn Sumac has a great winter outline.
The bark is yellow-brown and smooth.
Hardy zones 3 to 8; however on the extremely harsh northern Great Plains it may only survive in sheltered areas within zone 3. In Winnipeg it only survives within the city which is always a few degrees warmer at night due to the urban heat island. Drought and salt tolerance makes this an excellent plant for roadsides and parking medians. It does not like pollution and can be prone to wilt fungus though that tends to happen on wetter poorly drained sites which this tree doesn't like to begin with. The Staghorn Sumac prefers sandy well drained soil however is not very fussy other than its dislike for flooding.
If the Staghorn does throw suckers they should be removed unless a thicket is what you intend, however some Staghorns sucker only sparsely or not at all. The cultivars can be pollarded for a foliage effect...these plants are cut back to within 2 or so buds of old wood ( in a similar way to Buddleia davidii Butterflybush )
Propagation is from seed which germinates rapidly, especially if soaked in acid for 6 hours before planting 0.3 inches deep.
The cultivars listed below can be reproduced from suckers or root cuttings taken in winter or from semi-ripe cuttings taken in summer.

* photos taken on August 3 2010 @ University of Guelph Arboretum, Ontario

* photo taken on August 2 2010 in Bayfield, Ontario

* photo taken on Aug 3 2011 in Luzerne Co, PA

* photo of unknown source on internet


* photo taken on May 27 2012 in Howard Co., MD

* photos taken on Aug 1 2013 in Goderich, Ontario
* photos taken on Aug 4 2013 in Bayfield, Ontario

* photo taken on Aug 15 2014 at Maryland Zoo, Baltimore, MD

* photos taken @ Smithsonian Inst, Wash., DC on Aug 25 2014

* photos taken on July 27 2015 in Bayfield, ON

* photos taken on Mar 26 2015 in Luzerne Co., PA

* photo taken on July 16 2017 @ Thousand Islands, NY

* photo taken on Jul 18 2017 @ Dominion Arboretum, Ottawa, ON

* historic archive photos

* photo taken on July 14 2016 in Tobermory, ON

* photo taken on July 16 2016 in Goderich, ON

* photo taken on May 27 2017 @ Meadowlark Botanical Gardens, Vienna, VA

* USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database / Herman, D.E., et al. 1996. North Dakota tree handbook


'Laciniata'
Similar to regular Rhus typhina except for the deep green foliage which turns to intense orange-red in autumn being fern-like, lacy and deeply cut. This makes for a spectacular foliage plant if used in the right setting. It is sometimes cut to the ground each winter in which case it resprouts vigorously and thus used as a massive foliage perennial.

* photos taken on August 4 2010 in Stratford, Ontario


* photos taken by Milan Havlis, owner of central Europe's premier plant nursery

* photo taken on Oct 21 2014 @ U.S. Botanical Gardens, Washington, DC

* photos taken on July 25 2015 @ Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario

* photo taken on Jul 18 2017 @ Dominion Arboretum, Ottawa, ON

* photos taken on Jul 19 2017 @ Rideau Hall, Ottawa, ON


'Tiger Eyes'
A STUNNING yellow laceleaf form that can reach up to 12 x 15 feet in 8 years but is easily kept smaller. It is often cut back to near the ground in March to encourage fast growing shoots bearing massive foliage.
The lacey foliage is chartreuse color in spring, turning to non burning bright yellow in summer then to glowing scarlet red in autumn. Rose-red leafstems add even more to this plants interest.
This awesome focal plant looks even better against a dark evergreen background.
Hardy zones 4 to 8 ( possibly zone 3 as a cut back perennial ) in sun or light shade.

* photo taken on 4th of July 2010 in Washington, D.C.

* photo of unknown internet source


* photos taken on Aug 25 2011 @ Scott Arboretum, Swarthmore College, PA


* photos taken on August 3 2012 in London, Ontario

* photo taken on Aug 4 2013 in Bayfield, Ontario

* photo taken @ Smithsonian Inst, Wash., DC on Aug 25 2014

* photos taken on Oct 21 2014 @ Smithsonian Inst., Washington, DC

* photo taken on Jul 18 2017 @ Dominion Arboretum, Ottawa, ON

* photo taken on Aug 5 2017 @ Brookside Gardens, Wheaton, MD


Rhus vernix ( Poison Sumac )

Has been moved to the Toxicodendron family and is now Toxicodendron vernix. Check my article on Toxicodendron. Poison Ivy and Poison Sumac have berries that are white; NO TRUE SUMAC HAS WHITE BERRIES. All the Sumacs listed in this article above are safe and harmless to touch )

Rhus virens ( Evergreen Sumac )
A large evergreen shrub to small tree for warm climates, that is native from Arizona to hills of central Texas; south into northern Mexico. Largest on record - 21 x 26 feet with a trunk diameter of 1 foot. It makes a great hedge or screen.
Evergreen Sumac is a great all seasons attractive landscape plant.
The pinnate leaves, up to 5.5 inches in length are composed of 5 to 9 fleshy, leathery, smooth-edged, elliptical or oval leaflets up to 2 inches in length. The foliage is pinkish at first, turning to glossy deep green ( pale green beneath ) then finally to deep red or purple during winter. The foliage often drops at the very end of winter to be rapidly replaced with new growth in a few weeks.
The greenish-white to white flowers are borne on terminal clusters, up to 4 inches in length. The flowers attract butterflies.
They are followed by persistent, finely hairy, orange-red fruit, up to 0.25 inches, across, borne on terminal clusters, up to 4 inches, during early autumn and often persisting through the winter. Only female plants produce berries. Many wild clones are only one sex having reproduced through suckers.
After soaking in water, the berries make a great Vitamin C rich, tasty tea.
Hardy zones 7b to 10 ( becomes deciduous at 5 F ) in full sun to partial shade on just about any well drained soil. It is drought tolerant and is rarely bothered by pests or disease. While it does not thrive in the humid climates in the east, it can be grown as far north as Oklahoma. It is moderately deer resistant. Pruning is rarely required unless to train to tree form. Propagation is from seeds that are scarified for 45 minutes or root cuttings.

* photo taken @ U.S. Botanical Garden, Wash., DC on Aug 25 2014

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