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Common Name:

Fragrant Sumac

Scientific Name:

Rhus aromatica

Family Name:



Fragrant Sumac is typically a fine textured shrub with dark glossy green leaves above with pubescence beneath resulting in a gray-green summer color. The foliage is aromatic, desirable to some, the source of the common name Shunk Bush to others. The foliage turns good combinations of yellow, orange, and red in autumn. A very tought underutilized shrub for xeriscapes and low maintenance gardens.

Plant Habit or Use:

Small shrub, medium shrub



Flower Color:

Green to yellow-green, females inconspicuous, males in 1 inch to 2 inch catkins that are mildly interesting.

Blooming Period:


Fruit Characteristics:

1 inch to 3 inch panicles of red-brown drupes


2 ft to 8 ft, highly variable by site and genotype.


4 ft to 10 ft, variable but often wider than tall.

Earth–Kind® Index:

  • Heat Tolerance: High Heat Tolerance
  • Water Requirements: Low Water Use
  • Soil Requirements: Low Soil Requirements
  • Pest Tolerance: High Pest Resistance
  • Fertility Requirements: Low Fertility Requirements
Explanation of the Earth–Kind® Index breakdown

Firewise Index

Explanation of the Firewise Index numerical value

USDA Hardiness Zones:

4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10

Regions that intersect these hardiness zones:
Region A - Panhandle and High Plains Region B - North and Central Texas Region C - Northeast and East Texas Region D - West Texas Region E - Upper Rio Grande Region F - Hill Country and Central Coast Region G - Southeast Texas Region H - Rio Grande Valley
Click image for enlarged map of USDA Hardiness Zones

Additional Comments:

Very useful plant that deserves more selection and trial work; West Texas native that has found limited use in the Midwest and Northeastern USA; low growing forms have been selected.
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A Special Note about Cool Season Annuals

Cool season annuals typically are planted in the fall or early winter and flower in early spring under moderate temperatures. This group of plant materials includes: pansies, snapdragons, violas, dianthus, flowering cabbage/kale, etc. Because cool season annuals flower in the spring when conditions are mild, most have limited heat tolerance.

As a result cool season annuals do not receive a high Earth–Kind® index despite their outstanding landscape qualities.