Monday, November 5, 2007

The Trees of Our Little Acre - Cutleaf Staghorn Sumac



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.


Quick Facts about Cutleaf Staghorn Sumac

Zone: 3-8
Height: 20-25 feet
Spread: 15-20 feet (unless suckering is controlled)
Full sun / Light shade
Grows in poor soil
Drought tolerant
Pest resistant



8 comments:

Muum said...

those are lovely, I have thought I wanted some in my yard, but I have noticed that they spread easily. They must not need much water, I see some growing on the hills above our house that are not irrigated. I always enjoy your posts!

Meems said...

it is really nice to see all the photos from gardeners north of florida since we don't have any change of color down here in the 'tropics'. boo.

your tree makes a pretty photo. i especially like the last one.

vonlafin said...

Thanks for the comment on 'my baby'. It is so hard to believe that he is all grown up.
I have a 'Tiger Eyes' sumac. This was the first year in the garden for it, and it was beautiful all season. I don't think mine is supposed to get as big as the common sumac, but I did read that if it gets to big, you just cut out the largest branches, and it will stay a manageable. I did notice that the rabbits really enjoyed the bark on my sumac, but it didn't seem to hurt it.

Vanillalotus said...

Beautiful colors and airy shape. I love it.

Kylee said...

muum ~ Thank you! :-) And no, I don't think they have any special watering needs, in fact, I do know they don't like it when there's too much water, so come on - try one! You know you want to!

meems ~ My friend Kat lives in Zephyr Hills, but she grew up in Michigan and whenever she visits here, she always says, "Oh, I love seeing trees with LEAVES!" She misses the change of seasons because of the leaf colors.

vonlafin ~ Time goes SO fast, doesn't it? About the sumac, yes I think these hybrids don't grow as tall, but they do grow quickly, at least mine does.

vanillalotus ~ You're right! That's what attracted me to it. :-)

Sylvana said...

I didn't know that there were Menards in Ohio. It has been a great place for me to stock my garden.

I have one of these sumac (got it from K-Mart) and it said that it was not a spreading sumac -- liars! But I have had it for over 5 years and the shoots really haven't been enough of a bother for me to get rid of the tree. It makes a wonderful addition to my husband's Asian-themed garden!

Bob said...

I'm a big fan of these especially 'tiger eye' which has been a big trend plant in container gardening ( when small) here. Thanks for sharing the beautiful photos.

karen said...

I have heard that you can put up a barrier to prevent the suckers, has anyone tried this? What have you used, the garden weed preventing fabric? I bought one and like it but don't know if I want to plant it if it will shoot like crazy. Any help would be great.

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