Fragrant sumac is a very adaptable plant that is useful as a ground cover, or in mass, for its durability and fall color. It is also an excellent shrub for stabilizing banks and slopes. The glossy, blue-green leaves emit a lemon scent when crushed, and turn a magnificent burgundy color in the fall.
- Ground cover
- Deciduous (foliage falls off)
- Chicago area
- North America
- Zone 3
- Zone 4
- Zone 5
- Zone 6
- Zone 7
- Zone 8
- Zone 9
- Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily)
- Partial sun (4-6 hrs direct light daily)
- Partial shade (4-6 hrs indirect light daily)
- Dry sites
- Occasional drought
- Alkaline soil
- Road salt
- Acid soil
- Alkaline soil
- Moist, well-drained soil
- Small shrub (3-5 feet)
- Low-growing shrub (under 3 feet)
- Mixed border
- Early spring
Tree & Plant Care
Prune 1/3 of the older, larger canes to the ground in late winter to stimulate new growth.
Excellent shrub to stabilize banks and slopes
Disease, pests, and problems
Disease, pest, and problem resistance
Very adaptable plant
Native geographic location and habitat
Attracts birds, pollinators, or wildlife
Berries that ripen August-September and may persist into winter attract many birds, including robin, sparrows, goldfinch, and chickadee. However, berries usually lose their bird-attracting color in winter.
Bark color and texture
Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture
- Arrangement: trifoliate
- Texture: glossy
- Fall color: burgundy
Leaves emit a lemon scent when crushed.
Flower arrangement, shape, and size
Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions
In August and September, the female plants will produce red, fuzzy clusters of fruit.
This species is most easily recognized in the winter for its terminally borne male catkins.
Cultivars and their differences
Rhus aromatica ‘Gro-low’ (Gro-low Fragrant Sumac): Grows 2-3’ tall with a 6-8’ spread. This cultivar is a popular shrub in the Midwest for its fall color and low-growing characteristics.
Its aromatic, glossy green leaves turn a red-orange color in the fall. Ideal as a ground cover or in mass, and is an excellent shrub to stabilize on banks and slopes.