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Plant Profile: Winged Sumac (Rhus copallinum)

Native to Eastern United States, winged sumac is a tough small tree that is found on forest edges, old fields, meadows and roadsides. It grows quickly and suckers form colonies that are appealing when in bloom or fruit. The tiny greenish cream colored flowers are borne in pyramidal clusters 6-10” long above rings of foliage in summer and develop into showy pendulous, red fruit clusters that are attractive to birds into winter. The shiny leaves are a foot long and pinnately compound with resinous red stems. The leaf stems are winged between the leaflets giving rise to the common name. In fall the leaves turn orange-red to purple and add considerably to autumn coloration. Winged sumac is adaptable and can be grown a variety of soils and tolerates drought, heat, compaction, air and soil-borne salt. If grown in mass it provides a good wildlife habitat. A good plant for a screen, xeroscape, or informal planting.

Type: Small tree

Outstanding Feature: Autumn coloration; wildlife habitat

Form: May be single or multi-stemmed; irregular crown

Growth Rate: Fast growing, short lived

Bloom: Tiny greenish cream flowers are borne in pyramidal clusters 6-10” long in summer and are followed by showy red fruits.

Foliage: Shiny leaves one foot long are pinnately compound; turn orange red to purple in fall.

Size: 6-30’ H x 6-30’ W

Light: Full sun, light shade

Soil: Lean to humus-rich, moist to dry, neutral to acidic

Hardiness: Zones 4-8

Care: Remove suckers when necessary or plant where colonizing is desirable

Pests and Diseases: None of significance

Propagation: Division of suckers, seed.

Comments: Transplants easily; grows well in container.

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