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Rhus glabra (Smooth Sumac)

Smooth Sumac, Scarlet Sumac, Vinegar Tree

Rhus glabra, Smooth Sumac, Scarlet Sumac, Vinegar Tree, Fall color, Shrub
Rhus glabra, Smooth Sumac, Scarlet Sumac, Vinegar Tree, Fall color, Shrub
Rhus glabra, Smooth Sumac, Scarlet Sumac, Vinegar Tree, Fall color, Shrub

Flamboyant in autumn, Rhus glabra (Smooth Sumac) is an open, spreading, deciduous shrub with nice ornamental features. Its foliage of shiny, deeply dissected, fern-like, deep green leaves, 18 in. long (45 cm), turns brilliant shades of red and orange in fall. Its strong architectural form and elegant silhouette are revealed in winter after the leaves are gone. Cone-shaped panicles of green-yellow flowers bloom in late spring and summer, followed on female plants by conspicuous conical fruiting clusters, 8 in. long (20 cm), in fall. Attractive to wildlife, they gradually turn dark red as they persist through much of the winter. Native to most of the United States and parts of Canada, Rhus glabra is a suckering shrub that will form thickets over time and has the potential to become a nuisance. Great for naturalizing, on difficult slopes and banks.

Sumac plants are a beacon for a variety of bird species, notably the American Goldfinch, American Robin, Black-Capped Chickadee, Blue Jay, Eastern Bluebird, Northern Cardinal, and Northern Mockingbird. With their vibrant foliage and abundant berries, sumacs provide essential food and shelter, making them a cherished habitat for these avian visitors.

  • Grows up to 9-15 ft. tall and wide (270-450 cm). Spreads by root suckers to form thickets over time.
  • A full sun or part shade lover, this plant is easily grown in average, dry to medium moisture, well-drained soils. Fall color will be best in full sun. Tolerates a wide range of soils provided they enjoy good drainage. Remove suckers by digging out all roots.
  • Perfect for landscape areas with poor soils or for naturalizing in wild areas. Too aggressive for shrub borders. Great for slope stabilization (erosion control).
  • Drought and dry soil tolerant, it is also rabbit resistant.
  • No serious insect or disease problems. Keep an eye out for leaf spot, rust, scale, aphids and mites.
  • Native from the northeastern United States to southern Canada.

Requirements

Hardiness 3 - 9
Heat Zones 1 - 8
Climate Zones 1, 1A, 1B, 2, 2A, 2B, 3, 3A, 3B, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 14, 15, 16, 17
Plant Type Shrubs
Plant Family Anacardiaceae
Genus Rhus
Common names Sumac, Smooth Sumac
Exposure Full Sun, Partial Sun
Season of Interest Spring (Late)
Summer (Early, Mid, Late)
Fall
Height 9' - 15'
(270cm - 4.6m)
Spread 9' - 15'
(270cm - 4.6m)
Maintenance Low
Water Needs Low, Average
Soil Type Chalk, Clay, Loam, Sand
Soil pH Acid, Alkaline, Neutral
Soil Drainage Well-Drained
Characteristics Showy, Fruit & Berries
Native Plants United States, New York, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Maryland, Vermont, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, Rocky Mountains, Alaska, Southeast, Pacific Northwest, Southwest, Midwest, Northeast, California, Iowa, Wisconsin, Indiana, Illinois, Nebraska, South Dakota, Ohio, North Dakota, Missouri, Minnesota, Michigan, Kansas, Idaho, Oregon, Washington, Tennessee, Virginia, Alabama, West Virginia, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas, Arizona, Oklahoma, Nevada, New Mexico, Wyoming, Utah, Montana, Colorado
Tolerance Drought, Rabbit, Dry Soil, Rocky Soil
Attracts Birds, Butterflies
Garden Uses Banks And Slopes
Garden Styles Informal and Cottage, Prairie and Meadow
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Alternative Plants to Consider

Rhus typhina (Staghorn Sumac)
Rhus copallinum (Winged Sumac)
Rhus aromatica (Fragrant Sumac)
Searsia lancea (African Sumac)
Rhus trilobata (Skunkbush Sumac)
Rhus ovata (Sugar Sumac)

Recommended Companion Plants

Betula papyrifera (Paper Birch)
Salvia ‘Phyllis Fancy’
Echinacea (Coneflower)
Aster amellus (Italian Aster)

Find In One of Our Guides or Gardens

Small Trees and Shrubs That Attract Birds
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.
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Requirements

Hardiness 3 - 9
Heat Zones 1 - 8
Climate Zones 1, 1A, 1B, 2, 2A, 2B, 3, 3A, 3B, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 14, 15, 16, 17
Plant Type Shrubs
Plant Family Anacardiaceae
Genus Rhus
Common names Sumac, Smooth Sumac
Exposure Full Sun, Partial Sun
Season of Interest Spring (Late)
Summer (Early, Mid, Late)
Fall
Height 9' - 15'
(270cm - 4.6m)
Spread 9' - 15'
(270cm - 4.6m)
Maintenance Low
Water Needs Low, Average
Soil Type Chalk, Clay, Loam, Sand
Soil pH Acid, Alkaline, Neutral
Soil Drainage Well-Drained
Characteristics Showy, Fruit & Berries
Native Plants United States, New York, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Maryland, Vermont, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, Rocky Mountains, Alaska, Southeast, Pacific Northwest, Southwest, Midwest, Northeast, California, Iowa, Wisconsin, Indiana, Illinois, Nebraska, South Dakota, Ohio, North Dakota, Missouri, Minnesota, Michigan, Kansas, Idaho, Oregon, Washington, Tennessee, Virginia, Alabama, West Virginia, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas, Arizona, Oklahoma, Nevada, New Mexico, Wyoming, Utah, Montana, Colorado
Tolerance Drought, Rabbit, Dry Soil, Rocky Soil
Attracts Birds, Butterflies
Garden Uses Banks And Slopes
Garden Styles Informal and Cottage, Prairie and Meadow
How Many Plants
Do I Need?
Explore Great Plant Combination Ideas
Rhus (Sumac)
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Rhus (Sumac)
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