Rhus aromatica 'Gro-Low'
Common Name: fragrant sumac
Type: Deciduous shrub
Family: Anacardiaceae
Zone: 3 to 9
Height: 1.50 to 2.00 feet
Spread: 6.00 to 8.00 feet
Bloom Time: April to May
Bloom Description: Yellowish
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Dry to medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Naturalize
Flower: Insignificant
Attracts: Birds, Butterflies
Fruit: Showy
Tolerate: Rabbit, Drought, Erosion, Clay Soil, Dry Soil, Shallow-Rocky Soil

Culture

Easily grown in average, dry to medium, well-drained soil in full sun to part shade. Tolerant of wide range of soils except those that are poorly drained.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Rhus aromatica, commonly called fragrant sumac, is a deciduous Missouri native shrub which occurs in open woods, glades and thickets throughout the State. A dense, low-growing, rambling shrub which spreads by root suckers to form thickets in the wild. Typically grows 2-4' tall (less frequently to 6') and spreads to 10' wide. Trifoliate, medium green leaves turn attractive shades of orange, red and purple in autumn. Leaves and twigs are aromatic when bruised (hence the species name). Although smaller, the leaves resemble in appearance those of the related poison ivy (Rhus radicans). However fragrant sumac is a totally non-poisonous plant. Tiny yellow flowers bloom at the twig tips in early spring before the foliage. Separate male flowers (in catkins) and female flowers (in clusters) appear on the same plants (monoecious) or, more commonly, on different plants (dioecious). Male catkins form in late summer and persist throughout the winter until eventually blooming in spring. Female flowers give way in late summer to small clusters of hairy, red berries which may persist into winter. Fruit is attractive to wildlife.

Genus name comes from the Greek name for one species, Rhus coriaria.

Specific epithet means fragrant.

'Gro-Low' is a dense, low-growing, cultivar which spreads by root suckers and typically grows only to 1-2' tall but spreads to 8' wide.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems. Some susceptibility to leaf spot, rust, scale, aphids and mites. Nipple galls on foliage are a somewhat common, but generally cosmetic problem.

Garden Uses

Good for stabilizing embankments or for hard-to-cover areas with poorer soils or for wild parts of native plant gardens or naturalized areas. Informal hedges.