Scientific Name: Rhus aromatica

Common Name: fragrant sumac

Other Common Names: beach sumac, aromatic sumac, lemon sumac, polecat bush

Leaves: Leaves: deciduous, alternate, compound with 3 leaflets, variable in shape, lobing, and margin, the leaflets unstalked, ovate to rhomboid, more or less wedge-shaped at the base, coarsely-toothed, usually shiny-glabrous above, the terminal leaflet 3-6.5 cm long; summer foliage green to glossy blue-green, turning orange to red or purple in the fall.

Identifying Characteristics: Sumac family (Anacardiaceae). Straggling to upright native shrubs 0.5-2(-2.5) meters tall (rarely tree-like), forming colonial thickets of up to 10 feet spread, suckering from the roots, the branches slender ascending, puberulent, glabrate, or densely pilose; buds naked, tiny, yellow, hairy, surrounded by a raised, circular leaf scar.

Flower Seed Head: Flowers: yellow, in small, dense inflorescences on short lateral shoots, opening before the leaves, bisexual and unisexual, both types borne on the same plant (the species polygamodioecious); male (staminate) flowers in yellowish catkins, female (pistillate) flowers in bright yellow, short panicles at the ends of branches

Seed Fruit: Fruits: 5-7 mm in diameter, bright red at maturity and densely hairy, containing a single nutlet 3.8-4.5 mm long, in terminal clusters. The common name sumac is from the Middle English for related tree. The leaves are fragrant or at least odorous.

Where Found: Fragrant sumac is native to most of the US east of the Rocky Mountains, from Ontario and western Quebec, Massachusetts and New Hampshire to Florida and west to the Great Plains in Texas to South Dakota.

  • Life cycle: perennial

  • Milky sap: Not Present

  • Plant type: Shrub

  • Thorns: Not Present

  • Plant family: Anacardiaceae

  • Leaf arrangement: alternate

  • Leaf shape: oval; spatulate

  • Ochrea: Not Present

  • Leaf margin: serrated; lobed

  • Stem hairs: no hairs

  • Flower color: green

  • Growth habit: woody bush or tree

  • Stem: round or oval

  • Leaf structure: pinnate

  • Leaf hairs: no hairs

  • Flower symmetry: not symmetrical

  • Flower diameter: pencil

  • Leaf stalk: shorter than leaf