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Genus Rhus (Sumac)

Rhus Rhus typhina 'Bailtiger' Photo/Illustration: Michelle Gervais
rus Common Name: Sumac
Plants in the genus Rhus are widely distributed, growing on hillsides, bogs, thickets, woodlands, and dry sites. They are grown primarily for their pinnate or palmate leaves, which provide texture and a kaleidoscope of color in autumn. The inconspicuous flowers occur in large panicles and are followed by spherical fruits. Use in naturalistic plantings, meadows, or woodland transitions; along water or roads; on banks; or other difficult areas. Suckering species may become invasive; some species are toxic if ingested. Some exhibit drought tolerance. Rhus are considered fire-resistant plants, for use in regions threatened by frequent wildfires.
Noteworthy characteristics: The genus exhibits distinctly textured leaves, which produce brilliant autumn color.
Care: Grow in average, moist but well-drained soil in full sun (for best fall color).
Propagation: Divide suckers when dormant or sow seed in autumn. Take semi-ripe cuttings in summer or root cuttings in winter.
Problems: Powdery mildew, wood rot, Verticillium wilt, leaf spot, blister, canker, dieback, caterpillars, scale.

Species, varieties and cultivars for genus Rhus

Rhus aromatica ‘Gro-low’ Rhus aromatica ‘Gro-low’
(Fragrant sumac)
(1 user review)
Hardiness Zones: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

This vigorous shrub hugs the ground (to 2 feet tall) and spreads out to 8 feet, making it an excellent choice for stablizing a bank or smothering weeds. It has small yellow flowers, hairy red fruits, and glossy leaves that change to gorgeous orange-red in autumn. 

Rhus typhina 'Tigereye Bailtiger' Rhus typhina 'Tigereye Bailtiger'
(Tiger eyes sumac, Staghorn sumac, Velvet sumac)
(2 user reviews)
Hardiness Zones: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

Lemon-lime foliage, fuzzy stems, and intense fall color make this sumac cultivar a standout. It grows into an upright, rounded form about 6 feet tall and as wide. New growth emerges chartreuse. Fall brings leaves of yellow, scarlet, and orange. Flowers are yellowish green and followed, on female plants, by hairy, dark red fruit. This plant spreads by suckers and can be invasive. The species is native to North America.