Rhus chinensis
Common Name: Chinese sumac
Type: Deciduous shrub
Family: Anacardiaceae
Native Range: China, Japan
Zone: 5 to 8
Height: 15.00 to 25.00 feet
Spread: 20.00 to 30.00 feet
Bloom Time: August to September
Bloom Description: Creamy white
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Dry to medium
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Naturalize
Flower: Showy
Attracts: Birds, Butterflies
Fruit: Showy
Tolerate: Rabbit, Drought, Dry Soil, Shallow-Rocky Soil

Culture

Easily grown in average, dry to medium moisture, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Tolerant of a wide range of soils, but avoid poorly drained ones. Generally tolerant of urban conditions. Plants are dioecious (separate male and female plants), and only female plants with pollinated flowers will produce fruit/seed and possibly self-seed in the landscape. This tree/shrub will spread by root suckering. Suckers should be promptly removed unless plants are being grown in naturalized areas where colonial spread is desired. Training is usually required for this plant to acquire good tree form.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Chinese sumac also know as Chinese gall or nutgall tree is an open-spreading large shrub or small tree that grows to 15-25’ tall. Pinnately compound leaves with 7-13 toothed leaflets (each 2-5” long). Petiole is often winged. Leaflets are bright green above and brown pubescent beneath. Fall color may be insignificant, but can produce excellent yellow/orange/red colors in some climates. Creamy white flowers in large rounded panicles (6-10” across) bloom in late summer. Pollinated flowers on female plants are followed by fruiting clusters containing numerous, showy, hairy, berry-like drupes that ripen to red in fall. A Chinese gall is an abnormal growth that forms on plant tissue (stem or leaf) of R. chinensis as the result of a gall aphid deposit, hence the sometimes used common name of Chinese gall for this plant.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems. Some susceptibility to leaf spots, rusts, powdery mildew, blister, cankers, fusarium wilt and verticillium wilt. Scale, aphids and caterpillars may appear. Watch for mites. May spread aggressively by root suckers. Branches are susceptible to breakage because wood is weak.

Garden Uses

Best for dry, informal, naturalized areas where it can be allowed to spread and form colonies. Effective when massed on slopes for erosion control or in hard-to-cover areas with poorer soils. Naturalize in open woodland areas, wood margins or wild areas. Has some nice ornamental features (shiny dark green summer foliage, flower panicles in late summer, fruiting clusters in fall and excellent fall foliage color), but is probably too weedy and aggressive for shrub borders or foundations.