2017

 
 

Chinese sumac, or Rhus chinensis, is a deciduous small tree that offers a lot while asking little in return. It is a tough-as-nails Chinese native that grows to 25 feet tall and wide. Its leaves are pinnately compound, to 16 inches in length and bright green, and make the perfect background for the showy panicles of white flowers that decorate the tree for weeks in summer. The flowers are followed by clusters of scarlet red fruit that are even more beautiful against the foliage than the flowers. And if you stopped right there the tree would still be more than worth having, especially as it is the right size and is so trouble-free. But the real show comes in autumn when the foliage blazes into orange and red while the fruit is still clinging to the branches.

Originally from central China, Chinese sumac is able to withstand an extensive range of weather conditions and can grow almost anywhere. In North America it ranges from southern Canada to the Gulf coast. It grows across the UK and is equally adapted to New Zealand and Australia. It can take acid or alkaline soil, clay or sand, humidity or drought. It would be as suited on a reclamation site as it would be in a well maintained garden. Its size makes it available to almost any property and suitable for planting beneath power lines. As usual, a tree like this may take some looking for as discount nurseries hardly ever carry it. But there are some more discriminating tree nurseries that do carry Chinese sumac.

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Chinese sumac

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