The Fragrant Sumac has been described as an undesirable in the plant world as it is often associated with the lesser desired sumacs and has three-loved leaves that some misidentify as poison ivy; however, this rugged hardy plant is a great choice for problem areas, steep slopes, and when a ground cover is desired.
The Fragrant Sumac is a dense, rambling, low spreading groundcover or low spreading deciduous shrub. It spreads by root suckers and forms colonies and thickets. If plantings become unruly they can be cut down with a brush hog or mower and will regenerate. In mass plantings, it is excellent for stabilizing banks and slopes. In the early spring, small yellow flowers appear at the twig tips before the foliage appears. Its green leaves of spring and summer transition to beautiful shades of orange, red, or reddish-purple in the fall. The leaves have a lemony scent when crushed. There are male and female flowers that may appear on the same or a different plant. The female flowers produce small clusters of red berries in late summer which attract wildlife.
The Fragrant Sumac is a host plant to 56 varieties of butterfly and moth species. Pollinators are heavily attracted to the early spring flowers of the shrub.
Oddly the Fragrant Sumac can be both monoecious and dioecious and varies from plant to plant with no explanation. Therefore, if the flower and berries is highly desired it is recommended to get two or more plants in case the particular plant you get is a dioecious plant with separate male and female plants. The shrubs offered in the Jefferson Soil and Water Conservation District Native Tree Sale are unsexed trees, so it is recommended to buy multiple shrubs. ■