Producing brilliant scarlet fall foliage and edible small red fruits, the smooth sumac is only suitable for spacious landscapes. This deciduous, bushy, suckering shrub to very small tree is native to sunny, dry lands all across North America: from the southern half of Canada to northeastern Mexico. It's the only tree/shrub species native to all of the contiguous United States. Leaning, crooked but beautiful trunks and open branching develops on the smooth sumac.
Distinguish this sumac species from others by the hairless (smooth) new shoots that grow from the branches each spring. Mature leaves comprise 15 to 31 lance-shaped leaflets with toothed edges. Leaf color is deep green, perhaps with a hint of blue-green. In summer's warmth, branch tips produce erect, cone-shaped panicle clusters of yellowish green flowers. Plants are either male or female as determined by the sex of the flowers. On female plants, the blooms are followed by clusters of fuzzy deep red to sienna-tinted fruits in autumn. These fruits are edible but loaded with seeds, and may be used to create a drink akin to lemonade. Fall foliage is always a robust rich red or scarlet. The fruit clusters persist well into winter.
Grow the smooth sumac in abundant sunshine in any well-drained soil. It is especially useful to plant in low-nutrient, rocky soils that tend to be on the dry side (where even junipers have trouble growing). Since this shrub suckers and creates a thicket of indefinite width, do not place it in too small of a landscape. It's likely best used on hillsides or the edges of woodlands and prairies and allowed to randomly spread and naturalized. In more manicured areas, be prepared to continually prune away suckers to contain the colony's spread. It's possible to create a more traditional-looking small tree form if suckers are removed and a lone trunk is permitted to develop. (info source: Learn2Grow.com)
Genus - Rhus
Species - Glabra
Common name - Smooth Sumac
Pre-Treatment - Required
Hardiness zones - 3 - 9
Height - 10' / 3 m
Spread - 10' / 3 m
Plant type - Shrub
Vegetation type - Deciduous
Exposure - Full Sun, Partial Sun
Growth rate - Fast
Soil PH - Acidic, Neutral, Alkaline
Soil type - Clay, laom, Sand, well drained
Water requirements - Drought tolerant, average water
Landscape uses - Mixed Border, Screening / Wind Break
Bloom season - Summer
Leaf / Flower color - Green / Yellow-green
1. Soak the seeds in a bowl full of +50C (120F) water. Let the water cool completely. Pour off the cool water. Pour more +50C (120F) water onto the seeds and soak until the water cools..
2. Stratify seeds in a plastic bag full of moist sand inside the refrigerator for 60-90 days. Keep the sand barely moist during the cold stratification period.
3. Sow seed 6 mm (1/4") deep, tamp the soil, keep moist, mulch the seed bed
Can be sown outdoors in the fall for spring germination.
Other: if boiling water treatment does not allow seed to imbibe, sulfuric acid treatment is required.
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