This native woody shrub is 2-8' tall. Depending on the variety, it is variable in size and branching habit. Fragrant Sumac can be an erect shrub with ascending branches, or it can be a low shrub with spreading branches. The trunk and lower branches are greyish brown and woody, while the upper branches are more or less pubescent. The alternate leaves are trifoliate. The individual leaflets are up to 3" long and 1½" across, although they are often half this size. The terminal leaflet is somewhat larger than the lateral leaflets. They are elliptic, oval-ovate, oblanceolate, or obovate in shape, coarsely crenate or shallowly cleft along their margins, and green, yellowish green, or red. The upper surface of each leaflet is glabrous to finely pubescent (canescent), while the lower surface is sparsely pubescent to softly hairy. Each leaflet is sessile, or it has a short petiole. The crushed foliage has a pleasant bittersweet fragrance. Occasionally, short spikes of flowers or panicles of floral spikes are produced from the axils of the leaves. These flowers can appear before or during the early development of the leaves. Each floral spike is up to 1" long. The individual flowers are greenish yellow, short-tubular in shape, and about 1/8" long; they can be perfect or unisexual (male or female). The blooming period occurs during the spring. During the summer, the flowers are replaced by hairy red drupes. Each drupe is up to ¼" across and globoid-ovoid in shape; it contains a single stone (seed with a hard coat). The root system consists of a woody branching taproot.