Rhus aromatica (Skunkbush sumac)

Formerly R. trilobata. Also called Aromatic sumac. Deciduous thicket forming shrub up to 8 ft. tall with bright red berries and small yellow flower clusters, blooming March to October. Widely adapted, occurring on well-drained, rocky soils in woodlands, valley bottoms, mid to high deserts, low mountain habitats, roadsides and riparian communities; up to 9,000 ft. elevation. Deep roots and spreading rhizomes. Smaller and less aggressive than Smooth sumac (R. glabra). Used for restoration, landscaping hedges and rehabilitating disturbed sites such as cutbanks. Browsed by elk, deer, bighorn sheep and pronghorn; occasionally by livestock. Provides cover for many species of birds and small mammals. Berries are an emergency winter food source for various birds including, prairie chickens, wild turkeys, ring-necked pheasants, ruffed grouse, sharp-tailed grouse, sage-grouse and others. Attracts numerous small native bees, flies and butterflies. Caterpillar host of Neumoegen’s buckmoth, Splendid royal moth and Phoenix emerald moth. Deciduous, thicket forming shrub 2 to 6 ft. tall with deep roots and spreading rhizomes occurring in well-drained soils on dry hillsides, canyons, valleys and plains. Low to fair value as forage for livestock and wildlife but is valuable as cover for wildlife.


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Family: Anacardiaceae

Duration: Perennial

Growth Habit: Shrub

Native Status: Native

Growth Form: Rhizomatous

Mature Height: 4 ft.

Bloom Color: Yellow

Fruit/Seed Color: Red

Bloom Period: Early spring

Annual Precipitation: 8-20 in.

Drought Tolerance: Medium

Shade Tolerance: Intermediate

Elevation:  ft.

Wetland Indicator Status:

Fire Resistance: No

Fire Tolerance: Medium

Nitrogen fixation: None


Coarse Texture: Yes

Medium Texture: Yes

Fine Texture: No

Salinity Tolerance: Medium

CaCO3 Tolerance: Low

pH Range: 6.5-8.2


Seeds per Pound: 25,700

Seeding Rate:  PLS lbs/acre

Season: Fall

Days to Germination: