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Fragrant Sumac

Rhus aromatica

Fragrant Sumac

General Information

Fragrant Sumac is a slow-growing but easy-to-grow, rambling, low-spreading/suckering thicket-forming deciduous shrub. Fragrant Sumac forms thickets if the root suckers are not removed.

Fragrant Sumac is typically found in open woods, glades and thickets. Fragrant Sumac prefers full sun to partial shade and moist, rich, well-drained soils.

Fragrant Sumac has small yellow-greenish flowers over a one or two-week period between March and April. Fragrant Sumac is typically dioecious, meaning all flowers on a single plant are either male and female. Fragrant Sumac sometimes has separate male and female flowers on the same plant (monoecious).

Fragrant Sumac derives its name from the lemony scent given off when leaves are crushed. Stems root readily when they contact the soil. Native Americans used the roots to produce a yellow dye. Beverages were made from berries, and dried leaves were mixed with other plant leaves to form a smoking mixture. Leaves and bark were used to tan leather.

Plant Information

Plant Type:

Deciduous shrub

Sun Preference:

Full Sun * Part Sun

Soil Moisture Preference:

Medium-Dry * Dry

Plant Height:

4 to 6 feet

Plant Width:

2 to 3 feet

Plant Spacing:

2 to 3 feet

Flower Color:


Flower timing:

June to August

Culture Information:

Fragrant Sumac is less aggressive than Winged Sumac. It works best for stabilizing banks and slopes where the soil is poor, for native plant gardens, or for naturalized areas. It makes a good informal hedge and can be used in butterfly gardens, drought-tolerant gardens, native gardens, or pollinator gardens.

When first planted, Fragrant Sumac should be watered weekly for first few months, unless at least an inch of rain has been received in the last week to help it get established. After it becomes established, Fragrant Sumac does not typically need watering.

Fragrant Sumac is best pruned in winter.


Black Walnut
Clay soil
Dry soil
Shallow, Rocky Soil

Pests & Disease:

Fragrant Sumac typically has no serious insect problems. It has some susceptibility to scale, aphids, and mites. Fragrant Sumac occasionally forms galls, but these are generally cosmetic.

Fragrant Sumac has no serious disease problems. It has some susceptibility to leaf spot and rust.

Fragrant Sumac is allelopathic, negatively affecting the growth of some neighboring plants.

Wildlife Use:

Pollinators: Fragrant Sumac nectar attracts pollinators, especially butterflies and Luna Moths.

Birds: Fragrant Sumac berries are consumed by Turkey, Ruffed Grouse, Robins, and Flickers. Fragrant Sumac also provides cover for birds.

Mammals: Fragrant Sumac berries are consumed by small mammals such as Raccoons, Opossums, and Chipmunks. Fragrant Sumac also provides cover for small mammals.

Other: N/A.

Native to:

More Information:
NC State Plant Database:
Missouri Botanical Garden:
TN-KY Plant Atlas

Other Link:

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