Rhus Species, Fragrant Sumac

Rhus aromatica

Family: Anacardiaceae (an-a-kard-ee-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Rhus (roos) (Info)
Species: aromatica (ar-oh-MAT-ih-kuh) (Info)
Synonym:Rhus aromatica var. aromatica
Synonym:Rhus aromatica var. illinoensis
Synonym:Schmaltzia crenata



Water Requirements:

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Sun Exposure:

Sun to Partial Shade

Light Shade




Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us


36-48 in. (90-120 cm)

4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)

6-8 ft. (1.8-2.4 m)


24-36 in. (60-90 cm)

36-48 in. (90-120 cm)


USDA Zone 4a: to -34.4 C (-30 F)

USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 C (-25 F)

USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)

USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)

USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)

USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)

USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)

USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)

USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)

USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)

Where to Grow:

Grow outdoors year-round in hardiness zone



Bloom Color:

Pale Yellow

Bright Yellow


Bloom Characteristics:

This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds

Bloom Size:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Time:

Late Winter/Early Spring

Other details:

Soil pH requirements:

6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:


Propagation Methods:

By dividing rhizomes, tubers, corms or bulbs (including offsets)

From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall

From seed; stratify if sowing indoors

Scarify seed before sowing

By serpentine layering

Seed Collecting:

Seed does not store well; sow as soon as possible


This plant is said to grow outdoors in the following regions:

Morrilton, Arkansas

Aurora, Colorado

Glen Ellyn, Illinois

Saint Charles, Illinois

Wadsworth, Illinois

Chesterton, Indiana

Corinna, Maine

Aurora, Missouri

Cole Camp, Missouri

Piedmont, Missouri

Youngstown, Ohio

Hulbert, Oklahoma

Newtown Square, Pennsylvania

Arlington, Texas

Austin, Texas

Crawford, Texas

Harker Heights, Texas

San Antonio, Texas

Salt Lake City, Utah

Exmore, Virginia

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Jul 30, 2016, coriaceous from ROSLINDALE, MA wrote:

A native suckering shrub here sometimes planted in naturalistic landscapes. It spreads fairly quickly by suckering, and its low-growing cultivar 'Gro-Low' is sometimes used as a groundcover. In the wild, it's most often found on woodland edges.

This is a woody shrub, not a perennial. It's fairly nondescript, and is suitable for the background and not for specimen use. It's a good plant for stabilizing difficult sunny slopes, and tolerates dry infertile soils. Fairly good red fall color.

It likes sun and does not tolerate shade.

This species is hardy into Z3.

Some susceptible (allergic) people are said to develop a temporary skin rash on contact.


On Jul 29, 2016, Rickwebb from Downingtown, PA wrote:

This species has a large native range from Texas into Nebraska to southern Wisconsin into southeast Ontario to Vermont down to northern Florida. Its red sumac fruit is loved by birds and small mammals and edible for humans. It is occasionally sold by regular large nurseries and by native plant nurseries in the East, Midwest, and South. It is occasionally found in landscapes, mostly ones designed by landscape architects or designers who know many plants; few homeowners know of this shrub. It is a good-looking shrub with shiny leaves and good fall color. It does ground sucker some, so it is not used for very refined landscapes. Its cultivar of 'Low-Gro' is planted a good amount as a groundcover.


On May 22, 2012, kwanjin from (Zone 7a) wrote:

I love this plant. I've had it 7 years and it's beautiful. No suckering as with some other Rhus' and the Fall color is a wonderful red.


On May 31, 2007, frostweed from Josephine, Arlington, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

Fragrant Sumac, Rhus aromatica is native to Texas and other States.


On Mar 28, 2005, Toxicodendron from Piedmont, MO (Zone 6a) wrote:

This native shrub is a valuable wildlife plant. It's fruit is eaten by birds, raccoons, opossums, chipmunks, and deer.
It is sometimes mistaken for poison ivy, since both plants have 3 leaflets, but close examination reveals that the leaflets do not have stalks, whereas poison ivy leaflets do (the center leaflet). There are other differences in flowers, fruit, etc. Fragrant sumac does not cause skin irritation.
I have pulled this plant out in great quantity because it propagates by runners and my property is overly supplied with it. I leave it in the woodsy areas, but have eliminated it in the flower and vegetable patches. It favors a location at the edge of woods.
There is considerable variability in the characteristics of fragrant sumac over it's broad range ... read more