I do a lot of Genealogy research so while checking in on a local
cemetery, I noticed growing along the outer fence, on the bank area,
several Sumac bushes or trees.
Sumac trees do not generally impress me until Autumn when their
leaves turn bright orange and red.
But today,on what was a cloudy, dreary day, the deep red seed
heads were really very pretty. In the right area they would make
a beautiful winter contrast against a covering of snow.
These seed heads were holding up well as they have survived
the several snow and ice storms we have had so far this winter.
Smooth Bark (Rhus Glabra)
Researching the Sumac's that grow in Ohio, there are two
varieties, the smooth Bark Sumac and Staghorn.
I believe the one pictured is of the Smooth Bark variety, when
the seed heads were compared to pictures from the Ohio
Department of Natural Resources website.
The berries have very little pulp and are mostly seeds.
They are not the first choice for wildlife food, but birds and
animals will eat them when food supplies are exhausted.
They will grow in any type soil, even in dry gravely areas.
This would explain why they were growing so well on the bank
along the fence row which is right along the highway. The soil
there is hard, yellow, rocky clay and with the sloping hillside it
is very dry in the summer.
They are growing in full sun her but will grow in partial sun.
They spread by root suckers, seeds from the female shrubs,
and by sprawling lateral branches.
Because they will grow in full sun anywhere they are used
to control soil erosion.
Since they grow along roadsides they will with stand salt spray
as well as air pollutants.
They can stand up to cold weather and grown in zones 3 - 9.
Two warnings about using sumac as an ornamental:
Sumacs form a clump by sending up root suckers so there is
always a chance it will become invasive.
Sumacs have weak wood that breaks easily in severe weather.