Fragrant Sumac

Common Name: 
Fragrant Sumac
Scientific Name Genus: 
Family Name: 
Identification Notes
Easy to grow. Prefers dry to medium, well-drained soil in full sun to part shade. Tolerates a wide range of soils, but not poorly drained. Drought tolerant. Although related to poison ivy (Rhus radicans), Rhus aromatica is not poisonous.
Native Habitat
Native to eastern North America. Hardy zones 3-9.
Growth Habit
Dense, low-growing shrub that spreads by root suckers. Grows 2-4' tall and spread to 10' wide.
Trifoliate, coarsely toothed, ovate leaves 3-5" long in an alternate arrangement. Aromatic when crushed. Pubescent underside.
Glossy medium green turns shades or orange, red, and purple in the fall.
Leaves resemble poison ivy, but are smaller.
Rhus aromatica leaves
Bark and Stems
Rhus aromatica buds
Blooms in early spring before leaves on the ends of stems.
Tiny yellow flowers. Separate male (catkins) and female flowers (clusters).
Rhus aromatica Gro-low flowers
Hairy, red drupes on female plants. Mature in August and persists into fall. Terminal panicles.
Bloom Time
Common Problems
No serious insect or disease problems. Can be susceptible to leaf spot, rust, scale, aphids, and mites. Nipple galls on foliage can be a problem but generally only cosmetic issue.
Varieties or Cultivars
'Gro-low' - very common cultivar. Frequently found in trade. Similar to species but growing 1.5-2' tall and 6-8' wide.
Rhus aromatica Gro-low
Rhus aromatica Gro-low flowers
Landscape Uses
Best used in groups as a groundcover, to stabilize banks, or for difficult areas with poor soils. Better in naturalistic areas or woodland edge.
Rhus aromatica Gro-low in flower as groundcover.