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Aromatic Sumac, Fragrant Sumac, Sweet-scented Sumac, Three-leaf Sumac, Skunk-bush Sumac
Rhus aromatica


Aromatic sumac is widespread and adaptable in hills and woods, occurring in East Texas, east and south to Florida, north to Vermont, Missouri and Minnesota. This thicket-forming, straggly to upright shrub with arching branches has trifoliate leaves resembling a miniature version of poison ivy, which is in the same family. The leathery, usually smooth or occasionally somewhat pubescent leaves are reputed to have a pungently spicy (but not especially pleasant) aroma when bruised. In fall they display brilliant orange, red and yellow color. The fuzzy red fruit is enjoyed by many species of birds, including wild turkey, ruffled grouse and flickers; also by raccoons, opossum and deer. For the most desirable shape and fall color, aromatic sumac should be grown in full sun. However, as it is thicket-forming, it makes an excellent ground cover in shade and is well suited for erosion control. Variety serotina is one of the half dozen or more varieties of this species and occurs in East Texas to the Edwards Plateau. It has been cultivated since 1759. R. aromatica and R. trilobata are so similar appearing that they were once classified under the same name.

Plant Habit or Use: medium shrub

Exposure: sun
partial sun

Flower Color: yellowish green

Blooming Period: spring

Fruit Characteristics: red drupe

Height: 8 feet

Width: 4 to 5 feet, thicket-forming

Plant Character: deciduous

Heat Tolerance: high

Water Requirements:

Soil Requirements: adaptable

USDA Hardiness Zone: 4

Additional Comments:

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