Mom and I were browsing Menard's garden department in the spring of 2006 when she called me over to have a look at a small tree. When I joined her, I could see why she wanted me to see it and it just jumped right into my shopping cart.
The Cutleaf Staghorn Sumac (Rhys typhina 'Lanciniata') is a handsome tree, with its feathery foliage and velvety bark on its upper young branches (like the antlers on a young stag deer). Left on its own to do as it wishes, it will spread via suckers to form a hedge or thicket. Too late, I was advised not to try and garden under it because of its suckering habit. Oops. It's smack dab in the middle of Max's Garden.
I briefly considered trying to move it out of the garden and into the yard this spring. After all, it had only been in the ground for a year. But I decided to take my chances with it right where it is and after living another summer with it there, so far I'm glad I let it stay. Yes, it puts up suckers all around and fairly far away from the tree, but they pull out of the ground easily. By early summer, I stopped seeing suckers altogether.
It's easy to propagate the tree from its suckers and we saved one of the larger ones by potting it up and giving it to Adam and Kara. They planted it in their yard and it's done well. These are fast growers so it won't take long before their little tree isn't so little.
Though it has graceful, lush green foliage in the spring and summer, autumn is when this tree really shines! The color of the leaves doesn't get much better than this. Visitors to our garden always ask, "What's that tree?" when they first see it.
It's devoid of all leaves now and looks much like an architectural sculpture. It doesn't just lose individual leaves, it loses the small branches that hold them, leaving only the larger branches. Maybe next spring, when it begins to send up all those suckers again, I'll keep them and plant them along the property line. An entire row of them would be stunning.
Height: 20-25 feet
Spread: 15-20 feet (unless suckering is controlled)
Full sun / Light shade
Grows in poor soil