Rhus – Popular Shrubs for the Garden

Rhus Stag's Horn Sumach


The rhus most commonly seen in gardens is Rhus typhina  the well-known Stag’s Horn Sumach. It will grow anywhere; but has a bad habit of sending up suckers yards away, so be warned. For this reason it is not a good specimen for a lawn, although it is often seen in this situation. It usually grows 12-15 feet tall, so needs a fair amount of space.

By far the best of the rhus is Rhus cotinus, correctly known  nowadays as Cotinus coggygria, but described here as it is still found under Rhus in many catalogues. This is the Smoke Tree, Wig Tree or Venetian Sumach, although the latter name is hardly ever heard. Smoke Tree and Wig Tree are much more appropriate names as when it is in flower the flower-stems, many of them flowerless, are so slender that it looks as though the shrub is wearing a huge pale pink wig. In autumn these fine stems turn grey and one can why the name Smoke Tree has been given to this popular shrub.

Rhus atropurpurea foliis purpureis This is another plant for a poor soil, otherwise it may not flower freely, but will produce too much foliage. On the other hand, the variety known as Rhus atropurpurea foliis purpureis ‘Notcutt’s Variety’ might be given better treatment, as main attraction lies in the deep maroon leaves.

These are good plants for the busy or lazy gardener as pruning is needed except to remove dead wood or branches that spoil the shape.

See: more varieties of popular shrubs

14. October 2010 by Dave Pinkney
Categories: Herbaceous Plants, Planting Shrubs and Trees, Plants & Trees | Tags: , | Comments Off on Rhus – Popular Shrubs for the Garden


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