Rhus aromatica ‘Gro-Low,’ Fragrant Sumac

Tried and True Native Plant Selections for the Mid-Atlantic

This vigorous, ground-hugging shrub makes an excellent ground cover, suckering and filling in areas quickly. Its glossy foliage turns brilliant reds, oranges, yellows and purples in fall. At first glance, it may look like poison ivy (Rhus radicans), but Fragrant Sumac is not poisonous. It occurs more commonly in the mountains of the Mid-Atlantic Region than in the Piedmont.

Print Version: Rhus aromatica, ‘Gro-Low’, Fragrant Sumac

Rhus aromatica ‘Gro-Low’ Fragrant Sumac Ground Cover Height: 11⁄2–3 feet  Spread: 6–8 feet  Bloom Color: Yellow  Characteristics  Dense, low-growing, multistemmed deciduous shrub with long recumbent branches    Usually dioecious: separate male & female plants; plant sex may be unknown for purchased plants     Trifoliate, glossy blue-green leaves late in spring    Yellow catkins (male flowers) and yellow panicles (female flowers) in early to mid-spring    Fuzzy red fruit may persist into winter; male flowers needed nearby for fruit to set    Bright, colorful fall foliage late in season    Leaves and twigs are aromatic when bruised    Spreads by tip-layering and suckering    Attributes    Tolerates clay soil, drought (very well), rabbits; no serious pests or diseases; deer rarely damage    Vigorous growth; does well in disturbed urban soils    Attracts birds, butterflies, and small mammals Growing and Maintenance Tips Soil Requirements: Acidic (adaptable), well-drained Water Requirements: Dry, Moist Light Requirements: Sun, Partial Shade  Use in “hell strips” or en masse on rocky, dry, steep slopes (for erosion control) or bare, poor soil areas   The species is native to DC and to all NoVa counties but Arlington. It is absent in DE.   Hardiness: USDA Zones 3–9  Excellent Replacement for Berberis thunbergii - Japanese Barberry, Euonymus alatus - Burning Bush, Spirea japonica - Japanese Spirea

Learn more about other Mid-Atlantic plants: Tried and True Plant Fact Sheets