For Your Garden - November 2009
Fall brings a time of change for the garden. Can your garden still remain a showplace in fall and winter? If you use native plants, the answer is “Yes!” These species are adapted to the Illinois climate and caring for them is easy. Native shrubs can add height to your garden scheme. As perennials, you can enjoy them for many years to come.
sumac (Rhus sp.)
Photo © Illinois Department of Natural Resources
Several species of sumac can be grown successfully in your garden. They prefer dry soil but will tolerate other conditions, too. While some species may grow to a height of 20 feet, others are much shorter. Some sumac species have large compound leaves with many leaflets. Fragrant, or aromatic, sumacs have only three leaflets per leaf, and the plants are much shorter. Sumacs are compact shrubs producing green flowers in May and June that result in clusters of fleshy, red fruits in the fall. The fruits persist in winter and add color and interest to your landscape as well as providing food for wildlife. Sumac leaves turn brilliant red or yellow in autumn.
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.