Alphabetical Plant Listing

Rhus aromatica (Fragrant Sumac)

Fragrant Sumac, Aromatic Sumac, Lemon Sumac, Polecat Bush


Noted for its aromatic foliage, attractive berries and glorious fall colors, Rhus aromatica (Fragrant Sumac) is a dense, sprawling, deciduous shrub with lower branches that turn up at the tips. Native to North America, it is dioecious with separate male and female plants. The male plants produce yellow catkins while the female plants boast clusters of tiny yellow flowers in spring. They bloom at the tips of velvety twigs before the foliage emerges. The flowers are a nectar source for bees and butterflies. The pollinated female flowers are followed by small clusters of hairy, red berries in late summer, which may persist through fall and winter. They provide a food for birds and small mammals when other foods are scarce or unavailable. The lush foliage of trifoliate, coarsely toothed, blue-green leaves turns attractive shades of yellow, orange, purple and red in fall. The leaves and twigs are fragrant when crushed. Cold hardy, easy to grow, pest and disease resistant, drought tolerant, Rhus aromatica is great for erosion control because of its strong root development. It also makes a thick ground cover, is useful in shrub borders and looks best when planted in drifts.

  • Typically grows up to 2-6 ft. tall (60-180 cm) and 6-10 ft. wide (180-300 cm). Fast growing, it spreads by root suckers to form thickets.
  • A full sun to part shade lover, this plant is easily grown in average, dry to moist, well-drained soils. Best fruit production and fall color when planted in full sun. Extremely adaptable to varied soils, it tolerates dry, rocky or clay soils. Drought and salt tolerant once established.
  • Great for stabilizing embankments, native plant gardens or naturalized areas or as a ground cover.
  • Generally pest and disease free. Keep an eye out for leaf spot, rust, scale, aphids and mites.
  • Propagate by scarified and stratified seeds, semi-hardwood cuttings taken in summer through fall.
  • Native to North America.

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Requirements

Hardiness 2 – 8
Heat Zones 1 – 8
Climate Zones 1, 1A, 1B, 2, 2A, 2B, 3, 3A, 3B, 10
Plant Type Shrubs
Plant Family Rhus - Sumacs
Exposure Full Sun, Partial Sun
Season of Interest Spring (Mid,Late)
Summer (Early,Mid,Late)
Fall
Height 2' – 6' (60cm – 180cm)
Spread 6' – 10' (180cm – 3m)
Spacing 72" – 120" (180cm – 300cm)
Water Needs Low, Average
Maintenance Low
Soil Type Clay, Loam, Sand
Soil pH Acid, Alkaline, Neutral
Soil Drainage Moist but Well-Drained, Well-Drained
Characteristics Fragrant, Showy, Fruit & Berries
Native Plants United States, Midwest, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, Wisconsin, Northeast, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Southeast, Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Southwest, Oklahoma, Texas
Tolerance Clay Soil, Drought, Rabbit, Dry Soil, Rocky Soil, Salt
Attracts Birds, Butterflies
Garden Uses Banks and Slopes, Ground Covers
Garden Styles Informal and Cottage, Prairie and Meadow

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Wendy Cutler, Petrigied ForestNPS, NC State Extension Gardener (Flickr), Wiert Nieuman (Shutterstock)

While every effort has been made to describe these plants accurately, please keep in mind that height, bloom time, and color may differ in various climates. The description of these plants has been written based on numerous outside resources.


Requirements

Hardiness 2 – 8
Heat Zones 1 – 8
Climate Zones 1, 1A, 1B, 2, 2A, 2B, 3, 3A, 3B, 10
Plant Type Shrubs
Plant Family Rhus - Sumacs
Exposure Full Sun, Partial Sun
Season of Interest Spring (Mid,Late)
Summer (Early,Mid,Late)
Fall
Height 2' – 6' (60cm – 180cm)
Spread 6' – 10' (180cm – 3m)
Spacing 72" – 120" (180cm – 300cm)
Water Needs Low, Average
Maintenance Low
Soil Type Clay, Loam, Sand
Soil pH Acid, Alkaline, Neutral
Soil Drainage Moist but Well-Drained, Well-Drained
Characteristics Fragrant, Showy, Fruit & Berries
Native Plants United States, Midwest, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, Wisconsin, Northeast, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Southeast, Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Southwest, Oklahoma, Texas
Tolerance Clay Soil, Drought, Rabbit, Dry Soil, Rocky Soil, Salt
Attracts Birds, Butterflies
Garden Uses Banks and Slopes, Ground Covers
Garden Styles Informal and Cottage, Prairie and Meadow

Great Plant Combination Ideas with Rhus - Sumacs

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