General: 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. 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. 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. 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.
Variation within the species: three varieties are currently recognized, based on differences in geography, leaf shape, and pubescence of stems, leaves, and fruits. Var. aromatica occurs over nearly the whole range of the species.
Rhus aromatica var. arenaria (Greene) Fern. – restricted to Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois.
Rhus aromatica var. serotina (Greene) Rehd. – the western segment, occurring from South Dakota to Texas and eastward to Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa, and Illinois. It apparently intergrades with forms of Rhus trilobata where their ranges meet in the Great Plains (mainly from Texas to South Dakota).
Distribution: 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. For current distribution, please consult the Plant Profile page for this species on the PLANTS Web site.
Aromatic sumac, lemon sumac, polecat bush
Range and Habitat in Illinois
Regularity: Regularly occurring
Regularity: Regularly occurring
Species: There is some confusion in the literature as to the distribution of fragrant sumac because of the difficulty in differentiating fragrant sumac from skunkbush sumac [4,18,86]. For this review, fragrant sumac is discussed in its eastern range from Quebec, Ontario and Vermont, south to the Florida panhandle, west to eastern South Dakota, and central Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas. [4,13,45,68].
Varieties: R. aromatica var. aromatica occurs throughout the distribution of fragrant sumac. R. aromatica var. arenaria occurs in northern Ohio, northern Indiana, and northeastern Illinois [11,25,37,54]. R. aromatica var. serotina occurs in Arkansas, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Texas [25,37]. R. aromatica var. illinoensis occurs in Illinois, Kansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma .
States or Provinces
Regional Distribution in the Western United States
This species can be found in the following regions of the western United States (according to the Bureau of Land Management classification of Physiographic Regions of the western United States):
BLM PHYSIOGRAPHIC REGIONS :
14 Great Plains
Fragrant sumac is common along the forested eastern margins of the Great Plains and in open or otherwise disturbed sites on the margins of the Gulf Coast prairie. It grows at a range of sites including open rocky woodlands, valley bottoms, lower rocky slopes, and roadsides. Flowering: March-May, usually before the leaves expand; fruiting: June-August.
Fragrant sumac is a native woody shrub that achieves a mature height of 5 to 8.2 feet (1.5-2.5 m) [4,74]. Fragrant sumac typically has a thicket-forming growth habit as a result of prolific layering and sprouting [13,56]. Leaves are fragrant when bruised, deciduous and alternate with 3 leaflets that are variable in shape, lobing, and margin . Mature leaflets are usually coarsely-toothed; terminal leaflets are 1.8 to 2.6 inches long (3-6.5 cm) . Flower buds are formed terminally in the summer for flowering the following spring . Individual flowers are inconspicuous and produced in showy, dense clusters or spikes, 0.7 to 2.5 inches (2-8 cm) long. The fruits are hairy drupes, 0.2 to 0.3 inches (5 - 7 mm) in diameter, each containing a single seed . Fragrant sumac is rhizomatous, and forms an extensive, shallow root system . Fragrant sumac can tolerate sites with high moisture fluctuations from saturation/flooding in winter and spring to extremely dry in summer .
Range and Habitat in Illinois
Key Plant Community Associations
Eastern redcedar communities:
Fragrant sumac is a common shrub or small tree component in eastern redcedar
(Juniperus virginiana) communities throughout much of its range [7,14,29,30,39,42,57,67,70,72]. In Tennessee cedar glades, fragrant sumac thickets
develop in open-canopy forests where eastern redcedar is the predominant tree
species; winged elm (Ulmus alata), hackberry (Celtis occidentalis),
oaks (Quercus. spp.) and ash (Fraxinus spp.) often become mixed
with the eastern redcedar component in later successional stages . In a
description of an eastern redcedar savannah in Ontario, fragrant sumac is listed
as being a component of the "rich understory layer" in association with
downy pagoda-plant (Blephilia ciliata), common hop tree (Ptelea trifoliata),
and hairyjoint meadowparsnip (Thaspium barbinode) . In the Piedmont and
Blue Ridge provinces of North Carolina, the eastern redcedar-dominated communities
where fragrant sumac occurs may contain Virginia pine (Pinus virginiana)
and a variety of deciduous hardwood associates: pignut hickory (Carya glabra),
northern red oak (Q. rubra), white ash (F. americana), red maple
(Acer rubrum), chestnut oak (Q. prinus), mockernut hickory
(C. tomentosa), and American elm (U. americana) . In New York, the
eastern redcedar component may also contain American elm, rock elm (U. thomasii),
bur oak (Q. macrocarpa), white ash, shagbark hickory (C. ovata),
basswood (Tilia americana), pin cherry (Prunus pensylvanica),
paper birch (Betula papyrifera), and eastern white pine (Pinus strobus) . Other woody associates commonly found associated with eastern redcedar in communities
where fragrant sumac occurs are blackjack oak (Q.marilandica), Carolina
buckthorn (Frangula caroliniana), rusty blackhaw (Viburnum rufidulum),
dwarf hackberry (Celtis tenuifolia), coralberry (Symphoricarpos orbiculatus),
and Alabama supplejack (Berchemia scandens). Herbaceous associates may include little
bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium), indiangrass (Sorghastrum nutans), switchgrass
(Panicum virgatum), dropseed (Sporobolus spp.), yellow fumewort
(Corydalis flavula), anemone (Anemone spp.), creamflower rockcress
(Arabis hirsuta var. pycnocarpa), roundleaf ragwort (Packera obovata),
Wright's cliffbrake (Pellaea wrightiana), red columbine (Aquilegia canadensis),
and various sedges (Carex spp.) [42,70,72].
Oak and oak-hickory communities:
Fragrant sumac is a common woody shrub in a variety of oak and oak-hickory communities .
The species occurs in black oak (Q. velutina) forests in Illinois as an
understory component with common pricklyash (Zanthoxylum americanum) and gray
dogwood (Cornus racemosa) , and is also found in the understory of drier
black oak communities in southeastern Michigan . Fragrant sumac is "locally
abundant" in the post oak-black hickory forest community  of the Missouri Ozarks,
and is also common in oak-hickory (Carya spp.) communities in Illinois  and
Tennessee . In the Upper Midwest states and southeastern Ontario,
fragrant sumac occurs in dry, calcareous oak savannas dominated by white oak,
chinkapin oak (Q. muehlenbergii), and shagbark hickory . In
West Virginia, fragrant sumac occurs in the Appalachian oak and oak-hickory-pine
(Pinus spp) forest associations . Fragrant sumac occurs in the basic
oak-hickory forest type in North Carolina with a variety of hickory species and
the primary oaks being white, post, black, and chinkapin .
Other woody communities:
Fragrant sumac is one of the most common woody plants found in the Ashe's juniper
(J. ashei) communities in southwestern Missouri . In the Ozark Highlands
of southeastern Missouri, fragrant sumac can be found as a shrub component in pine-oak
forests composed of shortleaf pine (Pinus echinata), black oak, white oak (Q.
alba), post oak (Q. stellata), blackjack oak, black hickory (C.
texana) and mockernut hickory [10,75]. In the limestone and dolomitic glades of the
Ozark region in Missouri and northwestern Arkansas, fragrant sumac is one of the most common
shrub species in the sugar maple (Acer saccharum)-white oak climax communities
that develop along the edges of grass/forb-dominated openings . In Ohio,
fragrant sumac commonly occurs in the rocky banks and sand dunes along edges of
the elm (Ulmus spp.)-ash forest association . In West Virginia,
fragrant sumac occurs in the northern hardwoods forest association .
In addition to the forest communities discussed above, fragrant sumac
occurs in a variety of grassland communities . In the tallgrass prairie region
of Kansas, fragrant sumac is one of the most abundant shrub species where the predominant
grasses are bluestem (Andropogon spp.), indiangrass, little bluestem, and switchgrass ;
it can be found in shrub thickets that dominate upper draws and limestone outcrops, and it also
occurs as an understory species in the forested areas dominated by bur oak, chinkapin oak, hackberry,
and American elm . Fragrant sumac occurs in the tallgrass savannas in Illinois , with
little bluestem in Tennessee , and in the blackjack oak/little bluestem woodland association in
Oklahoma . In eastern Oklahoma, fragrant sumac can be dominant enough in some areas to form a
fragrant sumac shrubland alliance and a fragrant sumac shrubland association .
Habitat: Rangeland Cover Types
This species is known to occur in association with the following Rangeland Cover Types (as classified by the Society for Range Management, SRM):
More info for the terms: cover, hardwood
SRM (RANGELAND) COVER TYPES :
601 Bluestem prairie
710 Bluestem prairie
731 Cross timbers-Oklahoma
732 Cross timbers-Texas (little bluestem-post oak)
802 Missouri prairie
803 Missouri glades
804 Tall fescue
809 Mixed hardwood and pine
Habitat: Cover Types
This species is known to occur in association with the following cover types (as classified by the Society of American Foresters):
More info for the term: cover
SAF COVER TYPES :
14 Northern pin oak
27 Sugar maple
40 Post oak-blackjack oak
42 Bur oak
46 Eastern redcedar
51 White pine-chestnut oak
52 White oak-black oak-northern red oak
53 White oak
55 Northern red oak
76 Shortleaf pine-oak
78 Virginia pine-oak
82 Loblolly pine-hardwood
108 Red maple
110 Black oak
Habitat: Plant Associations
This species is known to occur in association with the following plant community types (as classified by Küchler 1964):
K031 Oak-juniper woodland
K074 Bluestem prairie
K081 Oak savanna
K082 Mosaic of K074 and K100
K083 Cedar glades
K084 Cross Timbers
K086 Juniper-oak savanna
K100 Oak-hickory forest
K101 Elm-ash forest
K103 Mixed mesophytic forest
K104 Appalachian oak forest
K106 Northern hardwoods
K109 Transition between K104 and K106
K112 Southern mixed forest
This species is known to occur in the following ecosystem types (as named by the U.S. Forest Service in their Forest and Range Ecosystem [FRES] Type classification):
FRES13 Loblolly-shortleaf pine
FRES38 Plains grasslands
Fragrant sumac reproduces from seed or clonally via root suckers. It is a pioneer species, establishing rapidly from seed after heavy disturbance, particularly fire. Browsing by deer may be responsible for rapid early removal of mature fruits; birds are the primary dispersal later. Individual plants may live about 20-30 years; clones can live substantially longer. Fragrant sumac sprouts vigorously after fire, and it can be propagated from root cuttings.
Seed dormancy results from the presence of a hard, impermeable seed coat. Fire scarifies seeds, promoting germination; various artificial methods of pretreatment have been tested, including sulfuric acid, hot water soaks, mechanical scarification, and cold treatment. Pretreated sumac seeds generally begin germination within 10-20 days. The resistant seed coats probably allow the seeds to remain viable for several years in the humus layer, as do those in seeds of some other Rhus species, allowing re-establishment through seed progeny when conditions are favorable for germination and growth.
Flower-Visiting Insects of Fragrant Sumac in Illinois
(Information for pistillate and unspecified flowers; on pistillate flowers, insects suck nectar; on unspecified flowers, insect activity is unspecified; some observations are from Krombein et al. and Smith et al. as indicated below, otherwise they are Robertson)
On pistillate flowers:
Anthophoridae (Ceratinini): Ceratina calcarata sn; Anthophoridae (Nomadini): Nomada cuneatus sn fq
Halictidae (Halictinae): Agapostemon texanus texanus sn, Augochlorella striata sn, Halictus ligatus sn, Lasioglossum cressonii sn, Lasioglossum forbesii sn fq, Lasioglossum foveolatus sn, Lasioglossum foxii sn fq, Lasioglossum imitatus sn, Lasioglossum zephyrus sn fq; Colletidae (Colletinae): Colletes inaequalis sn; Andrenidae (Andreninae): Andrena carlini sn fq, Andrena cressonii sn, Andrena erythrogaster sn, Andrena forbesii sn fq, Andrena imitatrix imitatrix sn fq, Andrena mandibularis sn fq, Andrena mariae sn fq, Andrena miserabilis bipunctata sn fq, Andrena rugosa sn fq, Andrena salictaria sn, Andrena tridens sn
Ichneumonidae: Lampronota coxalis sn (Ashmead, MS)
Syrphidae: Eristalis dimidiatus sn, Eupeodes americanus sn fq, Syrphus ribesii sn; Empididae: Rhamphomyia priapulus sn; Tachinidae: Gonia capitata sn fq; Calliphoridae: Cynomya cadaverina sn; Muscidae: Neomyia cornicina sn fq; Lonchaeidae: Earomyia aberrans sn; Sciomyzidae: Dictya pictipes sn
Flower gender unspecified:
Anthophoridae (Eucerini): Melissodes denticulata (Smh); Anthophoridae (Nomadini): Nomada spp. sn (Smh) Bees (short-tongued)
Colletidae (Colletinae): Colletes inaequalis (Kr); Andrenidae (Andreninae): Andrena bisalicis (Smh), Andrena erythrogaster (Kr), Andrena forbesii (Kr), Andrena illinoiensis (Kr), Andrena imitatrix imitatrix (Kr, Smh), Andrena macoupinensis (Smh), Andrena melanochroa (Smh), Andrena nigrae (Kr, Smh), Andrena platyparia fq (Smh)
Broad-scale Impacts of Plant Response to Fire
There is not a clear understanding if seedling recruitment following fire is the
result of fire directly stimulating the germination of banked seed, or if better seedling
survival occurs due to removal of competition [48,85]. Li and others  performed
tests on fragrant sumac seeds meant to simulate fire: they burned seeds and subjected
seeds to dry heat and boiling water. All of these treatments were ineffective in promoting seed
germination, so they concluded that in this species, seedling recruitment may
not always increase following fire; seedling establishment following fire is
likely the result of increased seedling survival due to the removal of litter and
light competition, and not the result of enhanced germination by high temperatures.
A spring burn killed 100% of fragrant sumac saplings in an oak-hickory
community in north-central Arkansas; however, seedlings were found establishing
on the site in the 1st summer following the burn at an average density of 3.7
plants/10m2 (there was no determination if "seedlings"
were from seed germination or sprouting) .
Fire also eliminated fragrant sumac from an oak-hickory community in
Missouri. The study plots were burned in the spring either annually or on
a 5-year cycle; study was carried out over a 14-year period. In both burn
treatments, fragrant sumac was eliminated and no regrowth of fragrant
sumac was observed .
A winter burn eliminated fragrant sumac from the seedling/sapling component
of a little bluestem-indiangrass community in Southern Illinois. Prior to
burning, fragrant sumac existed in the grassland at a density of 58 stems/acre.
One hundred percent of the fragrant sumac stems were killed by the
fire, and no resprouting was observed in the posttreatment surveys done in the
summer of the same year. The lack of resprouting was likely the result of
the fire burning very severely due to a heavy litter accumulation .
In a different burn study in a grassland ecosystem, fragrant sumac apparently
increased in occurrence after fire in a tallgrass prairie community in north-eastern
Kansas. The burns were conducted in April and were reported to have moved
slowly, 3.3-6.6 feet/min (1-2 m/sec), and maintained low flame
heights, <1.6 feet (<0.5m). Fragrant sumac had a 0% canopy cover preburn;
0.1% the 1st year postburn, and 0.5% the 2nd year postburn .
Spring burning apparently promoted fragrant sumac in oak and shortleaf pine
savannas in south-central Missouri. The study area was burned in April of
1999 and 2000, and vegetation surveys were performed in August, 1999 and
2000. Fragrant sumac was absent in pretreatment vegetation surveys, but
it showed up in posttreatment surveys (no quantification of sumac occurrence
was given) .
Plant Response to Fire
Broad-scale Impacts of Fire
Immediate Effect of Fire
Stems of fragrant sumac are susceptible to top-kill or complete mortality caused by fire, and even low-severity surface fire will kill stems [35,58,61].
POSTFIRE REGENERATION STRATEGY :
Small shrub, adventitious bud/root crown
Rhizomatous shrub, rhizome in soil
Geophyte, growing points deep in soil
Ground residual colonizer (on-site, initial community)
Secondary colonizer (on-site or off-site seed sources)
Fire adaptations: Fragrant sumac sprouts after fire from roots and rhizomes [24,52,56,68,90]. Seedling establishment can occur from banked seed  or from seed disseminated by birds or mammals . Seedling establishment of fragrant sumac may be prolific in the first 1 or 2 years after fire or other disturbance [49,56].
FIRE REGIMES: As of this writing (2005), there are no published fire history studies on fragrant sumac-dominated communities.
The following table provides fire return intervals for plant communities and ecosystems where fragrant sumac occurs. For further information regarding FIRE REGIMES and fire ecology of communities and ecosystems where fragrant sumac is found, see the FEIS species reviews for the plant community or ecosystem dominants listed below:
|Community or Ecosystem||Dominant Species||Fire Return Interval Range (years)|
|silver maple-American elm||Acer saccharinum-Ulmus americana||< 35 to 200|
|sugar maple||Acer saccharum||> 1,000 |
|bluestem prairie||Andropogon gerardii var. gerardii-Schizachyrium scoparium||40,62]|
|sugarberry-America elm-green ash||Celtis laevigata-Ulmus americana-Fraxinus pennsylvanica||< 35 to 200|
|beech-sugar maple||Fagus spp.-Acer saccharum||> 1,000 |
|juniper-oak savanna||Juniperus ashei-Quercus virginiana||< 35|
|Ashe juniper||Juniperus ashei||62]|
|cedar glades||Juniperus virginiana||3-22 [27,62]|
|shortleaf pine||Pinus echinata||2-15|
|shortleaf pine-oak||Pinus echinata-Quercus spp.||< 10|
|loblolly-shortleaf pine||Pinus taeda-P. echinata||10 to < 35|
|Virginia pine-oak||Pinus virginiana-Quercus spp.||10 to < 35|
|oak-hickory||Quercus-Carya spp.||< 35|
|northeastern oak-pine||Quercus-Pinus spp.||10 to < 35|
|southeastern oak-pine||Quercus-Pinus spp.||< 10|
|white oak-black oak-northern red oak||Quercus alba-Q. velutina-Q. rubra||< 35|
|bur oak||Quercus macrocarpa||< 10 |
|oak savanna||Quercus macrocarpa/Andropogon gerardii-Schizachyrium scoparium||2-14 [62,84]|
|post oak-blackjack oak||Quercus stellata-Q. marilandica||< 10|
|black oak||Quercus velutina||< 35 |
|little bluestem-grama prairie||Schizachyrium scoparium-Bouteloua spp.||62]|
Fragrant sumac is usually discussed as a pioneering species which invades disturbed sites, fencerows, roadsides, abandoned fields and forest and grassland borders [19,63,68]. Fragrant sumac is considered to be shade intolerant or to have a low shade tolerance . Although it does occur in many different forested communities, the specific sites are often along edges of openings or in stands where canopy closure has not yet occurred. It may be considered more of a late-successional species in the shrub-dominated communities in limestone and dolomite glades [7,22,57].
Pollination: Fragrant sumac is pollinated primarily by bees .
Seed production: Fragrant sumac produces 1-seeded drupes composed of a papery exocarp, a pulpy mesocarp, and a stony endocarp which encloses the true seed . Brinkman  noted that the species produces "copious quantities" of seeds.
Seed banking: Fragrant sumac can form a persistent soil seed bank with some seeds remaining viable for 1-5 years after being incorporated into the soil profile. Viability is greatly reduced within 5 years due to a gradual loss of seed-coat impermeability. Seed bank may be replenished slowly due to herbivory of the fruits; animals eat the fruits and remove them from the site. .
Germination: Seed dormancy in fragrant sumac is caused by a hard, impermeable seed coat and a dormant embryo [30,9,45). Seeds must undergo maturation desiccation and cold stratification before they will germinate; desiccation must occur before cold stratification . In laboratory tests, seeds that were not cold-stratified showed 0-15% germination, whereas stratified seeds showed germination of greater than 90% [13,31,47]. High temperatures have little to no effect in breaking seed dormancy in fragrant sumac [47,48].
Seedling establishment/growth: In grassland communities, seedlings of all shrub species compete directly with grasses for water and nutrients and many will die from this competition . Seedling establishment of fragrant sumac may be prolific in the 1st year after fire or other disturbance . Results of seed germination tests suggest seedling establishment following fire is probably the result of increased seedling survival due to the removal of litter and light competition, and not the result of enhanced germination from high temperatures. [48,85]. Seedlings rarely become established in dense thickets of fragrant sumac .
Asexual regeneration: Fragrant sumac reproduces clonally by sprouting from the roots and rhizomes . Sprouting can occur from rhizomes as far as 12-16 feet (3.7-4.6 m) away from the original stem . Fragrant sumac has been observed to sprout and form small thickets in the 1st few years following fire [52,56,90]. Fragrant sumac's sprouting ability also allows it to spread into newly developed soil mats in rocky areas and the openings along the edges of forested glades [38,63]. The density and frequency of new sprouts is reduced by frequent or recurring disturbance . Li and others  consider it a "weak sprouter", especially when compared to other sumac species such as smooth sumac (R. glabra).
Layering occurs in fragrant sumac when stems grow into contact with the ground and develop adventitious roots. New sprouts develop from the new roots bases and repeat the cycle of growth, layering and sprouting .
Growth Form (according to Raunkiær Life-form classification)
More info for the terms: geophyte, phanerophyte
RAUNKIAER  LIFE FORM:
Life History and Behavior
More info for the term: shrub
Fragrant sumac is a deciduous shrub with a typical winter dormancy. Flowers appear in mid-spring (March-May) with leaf expansion occurring at the same time or shortly thereafter . Fruit maturation is synchronous and occurs about 8-9 weeks after flowering, which in most areas is early to mid-June [44,46,47]. Because flower inflorescences are terminal, no further branch growth occurs along that axis. Branch growth each following year must arise from buds formed below the inflorescence. New twigs grow at an angle with the twig of the previous year .
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Barcode data: Rhus aromatica
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Rhus aromatica
Public Records: 2
Specimens with Barcodes: 3
Species With Barcodes: 1
National NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded National Status Rank: N5 - Secure
Rounded National Status Rank: N4 - Apparently Secure
NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure
The PLANTS database  lists fragrant sumac as having protection status in three states:
Connecticut: R. a. - special concern
Indiana: R. a. var. arenaria - threatened
Ohio: R. a. var. arenaria - presumed extirpated
In addition, the Wisconsin Botanical Information System  currently lists fragrant sumac as being a species of special concern.
Please consult the PLANTS Web site and your State Department of Natural Resources for this plant’s current status, such as, state noxious status and wetland indicator values.
Cultivars, improved and selected materials (and area of origin)
These plant materials are readily available from commercial sources. Contact your local Natural Resources Conservation Service (formerly Soil Conservation Service) office for more information. Look in the phone book under ”United States Government.” The Natural Resources Conservation Service will be listed under the subheading “Department of Agriculture.”
Fragrant sumac reportedly sprouts vigorously after fire in the southern Great Plains, and the primary mode of colonization after disturbance is through sprouting from the adventitious-bud root crown.
Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems
Other uses and values
Sumac species in general are valuable for erosion control because of their extensive root systems . The showy fall foliage and drought hardiness of fragrant sumac make it a desirable shrub for ornamental and windbreak plantings .
Native peoples are reported to have made a drink from the fruits of fragrant sumac . Fruits and leaves are reported to have a variety of herbal pharmacological uses: analgesic, antidiarrheal, burn dressing, cold remedy, dietary aid, diuretic, toothache remedy, reproduction aid, and gynecological aid .
Value for rehabilitation of disturbed sites
Fragrant sumac is well suited for revegetation and reclamation of eroded, disturbed, or depleted sites because of its ability to tolerate poor, dry, rocky soils, and its ability to grow at a low ph (4.5) [68,82]. The species has not been tested on mine spoils throughout the entire mining region in the eastern United States, but it has been observed "volunteering" on mine soils in many locations. At 1 test site in West Virginia, 15-year-old plantings of fragrant sumac had successfully developed into open stands with a height of 3 to 4 feet (0.9-1.2 m) .
Fragrant sumac was first cultivated in the United States in 1759 . It can be propagated vegetatively by rooting stem cuttings or by field-planting stem cuttings; the latter method is the one used in most commercial operations .
Propagation from seed is also an effective method for fragrant sumac. Fruits can be collected in late fall and early winter, and seeds can be cleaned or sown with pieces of the fruit wall still attached. Flotation can be used to separate out empty seeds . Because seed dormancy in fragrant sumac is caused by both a hard seed coat and a dormant embryo, both scarification and stratification are required before seeds will germinate [31,47]. Scarification with sulfuric acid for 1 hour at 68 degrees Fahrenheit (20 oC) followed by cold stratification at 33.8 to 39.2 degrees Fahrenheit (1-4 oC) for 1 to 3 months is recommended for fragrant sumac. If seeds will be sown in the fall, scarification is required, but the artificial cold stratification can be skipped as it will be achieved naturally in the soil environment . Li and others  found that soaking the seeds in a Gibberellic acid solution at a concentration of 500 or 1000 mg/liter achieved the same results as the cold stratification treatment. Li and others  found that the germination of fragrant sumac seeds is rather insensitive to light and temperature, although, their study did show that the best germination occurred with a treatment that alternated a 12-hour photoperiod at 86 degrees Fahrenheit (30 oC) with a 12-hour dark period at 59 degrees Fahrenheit (15 oC) .
Importance to Livestock and Wildlife
Flowers, fruit, foliage, and twigs of fragrant sumac are utilized by a variety of bird and animal species. Birds reported to feed on fruits of fragrant sumac include thrushes, robins, bluebirds, thrashers, catbirds, mockingbirds, crows, turkeys, flickers, and bobwhite quail [36,45]. Because fragrant sumac fruit matures in early summer, fruit is largely utilized by resident bird populations, and not so much by migratory populations . White-tailed deer have been observed feeding on twigs and fruits of fragrant sumac [17,45]. The species is listed as a preferred winter browse species for white-tailed deer in the Missouri Ozarks , but not a preferred species in eastern Kansas . Small mammals reported to feed on fruits of fragrant sumac include raccoons, squirrels, and opossums . Brown thrashers have been observed nesting in fragrant sumac in the Flint Hills of northeastern Kansas .
Palatability/nutritional value: Seeds of fragrant sumac contain a high percentage of oil, and the energy content is 5,304 calories/g . The fruit may be a source of easily digestible, quick energy, but the small size of the seeds limits the food value of the seeds .
Wildlife: The fruit is an important winter food for birds, including turkey, ruffed grouse, robins, and flickers, and for various small mammals (e.g., raccoon, opossum, chipmunk). The foliage is relatively unpalatable to most species of wildlife and domestic livestock. Thickets of fragrant sumac provide cover for many species of birds and small mammals.
Conservation: Fragrant sumac is not widely used for landscape plantings, probably because of its relatively small size, but it is used as a ground cover, especially on banks. The plants are hardy and can grow in sun or partial shade. The main ornamental feature is the orange to red fall foliage color. Several cultivars have been selected – mostly for variation in growth form. Fragrant sumac also has been used for rehabilitating disturbed sites such as banks, cuts, and fills.
Ethnobotanic: American Indians made a tart drink (“Indian lemonade”) from the ripe fruits of fragrant sumac (larger-fruited Rhus species provide a larger quantity of the same substance). The bark of all sumacs has been used as an astringent and leaves and bark can be used for tanning leather because of the high tannin content. Various Indian tribes have used fragrant sumac in treatment for various illnesses and health problems. The leaves, mixed with tobacco, were used as a smoking mixture.
The leaves and stems of fragrant sumac have a citrus fragrance when crushed, and it inhabits mostly uplands areas, while poison ivy has no odor and can inhabit various habitats.
- Cirrus Digital: Fragrant Sumac Rhus aromatica
Names and Taxonomy
The scientific name of fragrant sumac is Rhus aromatica Ait. (Anacardiaceae) [25,26,37,69,78,83]. Based on differences in geographic distribution, leaf
size and shape, and pubescence of stems, leaves and fruits, 3 varieties are
most often recognized [25,37,54]:
R. a. var. arenaria (Green) Fern. [11,25,37,54]
R. a. var. aromatica
R. a. var. serotina (Greene) Rehd. [25,37,54]
Although most florae recognize 3 varieties of fragrant sumac listed above, a 4th
variety, R. a. var. illinoensis (Greene) Rehd., is recognized
by some authors [25,54].
Hybrids: Fragrant sumac may hybridize with skunkbush sumac (R. trilobata) .
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