For Your Garden - January 2022

Native plants provide beauty as well as food and shelter for wildlife. Native species are adapted to the Illinois climate. They require little or no watering and are resistant to drought, insects and most diseases. Because they are perennials, you can welcome their presence year after year.

smooth sumac (Rhus glabra)
Photo © Illinois Department of Natural Resources

Smooth sumac is a small, deciduous tree or shrub. Its twigs are red-brown or green-brown and covered with a white coating. Its compound leaves may have as many as 31 leaflets. Male (staminate) and female (pistillate) flowers are generally on separate plants. The small, green-white flower clusters develop in June and July. The fruit is a small, red drupe (a seed enclosed in a hard, dry material that in turn is covered with a fleshy material). Drupes are covered with tiny hairs. Smooth sumac grows throughout Illinois in prairies, roadsides, fields and woods. Its leaves and fruits turn bright red in fall. The flowers are a good source of pollen and nectar for many pollinating insects, and the fruits help sustain many songbirds and game birds in the winter.

Classification and taxonomy are based on Mohlenbrock, Robert H. 2014. Vascular flora of Illinois: A field guide. Fourth edition. Southern Illinois University Press, Carbondale. 536 pp.

 Illinois Range

 Native Plant Information

For more information about native Illinois plants, including where to purchase them and planting guides, view the following publications at our publications page. You can access more information on the Schoolyard Habitat Action Grant page, too.