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Rhus typhina - Stag’s horn sumach

There are about 200 species of Rhus which belong to the Anacardiaceae, commonly known as the sumach family. Rhus typhina is a upright, deciduous large shrub or small tree often multi-stemmed with finely-cut dark green leaflets turning spectacular shades of orangered in autumn and who’s colours persist through winter. The plants produce inconspicuous yellow flowers in spring or summer, followed by small spherical red fruits in dense clusters.

The common name of Stag’s horn sumach comes about due to the young shoots being densely covered with velvety hairs and the forking pattern of the branches reminiscent of antlers. Be aware the Rhus typhina suckers freely and self-seeds, so saplings need to be removed regularly to prevent them becoming a nuisance.

FACT: Native Americans made a lemonade like drink from the crushed fruits of this and related species.
FACT: The dried leaves were also used as an ingredient in smoking mixtures.

Plant Profile

Name: Rhus typhina

Common Name: Stag’s horn sumach

Family: Anacardiaceae

Height: 4-8 metres

Width: 4-8 metres

Demands: Full sunlight preferred to get best Autumn colour, avoid north facing aspects.

Soil: Sand, clay, chalk and loan are all suitable but it should be moist and well drained.

Foliage: Deciduous

Flowers: Conical yellow/green

Rhus typhina info sheet