Tag Archive: suckering

rhus typhina trio


This is a small tree (which can also be grown as a shrub) that can be a bit of a thug, as it spreads freely by root extension, but it’s lower growth is thin enough to allow other plants to live alongside it. I have a few here at Old School Garden and it is a great tree for adding an oriental feel, has interesting foliage (especially in the autumn) and some unusual flowers.

Common name: Stag’s Horn Sumac

Native areas: It is primarily found in Southeastern Canada, the Northeastern and Midwestern United States and the Appalachian Mountains, but is widely cultivated as an ornamental throughout the temperate world.

Historical notes: Introduced to the U.K. in 1620’s it won the R.H.S. Award of Garden Merit in 2002. Some beekeepers use dried sumac bobs as a source of fuel for their smokers. The fruit of sumacs can be collected, soaked and washed in cold water, strained, sweetened and made into a pink lemonade. The leaves and berries have been mixed with tobacco and other herbs and smoked by Native American tribes. All parts of the Stag’s horn Sumac, except the roots, can be used as both a natural dye and as a mordant. The plant is also rich in tannins and can be added to other dye baths to improve light fastness. In both French and German, the common name of the species (Sumac vinaigrier, Essigbaum) means “vinegar tree”.

Features: Rhus typhina is a deciduous shrub or small tree growing to 5 m (16 ft) tall by 6 m (20 ft) broad. It has alternate, pinnately compound leaves 25–55 cm (10–22 in) long, each with 9–31 serrate leaflets 6–11 cm long. The leaf petioles and the stems are densely covered in rust-colored hairs. The velvety texture and the forking pattern of the branches, reminiscent of antlers, have led to it’s common name. The Sumach is dioecious (male and female flowers produced on separate plants), with yellow-green flower clusters, followed on female plants by dense crimson fruiting heads. 

Rhus typhina 'Tiger Eyes'

Rhus typhina ‘Tiger Eyes’

Uses:  Rhus typhina provides interest throughout the year and is spectacular in autumn when its foliage turns fiery orange, gold, scarlet or purple. The effect is greater when set against the dense cones of red fruit borne by female plants. To get the best from this autumn colour plant it in a sheltered position away from strong winds; otherwise, as here in Old School Garden, you won’t see the leaves for very long! It’s vigorous, suckering habit makes it unsuitable for smaller gardens. Some landscapers remove all but the top branches to create a “crown” effect in order to resemble a small palm tree. There are about 200 species of Rhus and numerous cultivars have been developed for garden use, of which ‘Dissecta’ (syn.’Laciniata’ or Cutleaf Stag’s Horn Sumac) has deeply cut leaves. ‘Dissecta’ will survive winters as low as minus -12°C and then regain new growth the following season. 

Growing conditions:  It can grow under a wide array of conditions, but is most often found in dry and poor soil on which other plants cannot survive. Some species can be pruned hard to the ground every other year in early spring to produce handsome foliage plants. The inner sections of the trees are woody and pithy . It is advisable to wear gloves because the sap is potentially harmful.

Picture by Alain Delavie

Picture by Alain Delavie

Further information:


RHS- Rhus typhina

RHS- Rhus typhina ‘Dissecta’

Horticulture Week- ~Rhus typhina

‘Thorny Problems: How can I get rid of Sumach suckers?’- Daily Telegraph

Barcham trees directory- Rhus typhina

Old School Gardener

It wasa glorious morning to get back to the garden..

It was a glorious morning to get back to the garden..

The snow has gone (for now), it was sunny, there was a sense of expectation in the air and gardening juices were rising…so the real ‘Green Deal’ has begun- a new gardening year!

A blue tit on one of our bird feeders-  we seem to have a good number of these

A blue tit on one of our bird feeders- we seem to have a good number of these

At last it’s been possible to get out in the garden! So what happened?

I submitted my bird watch figures to the RSPB : four Great Tits, four Blue Tits;three Blackbirds; three Seagulls;  two Wood Pigeon; 2 Collared Doves; 2 House Sparrows; 2 Carrion Crows; 1 Robin; 1 Chaffinch; 1 Wren… ‘and a cock pheasant in the pear tree…’)

I’ve also sown some seeds ( a tray each of Leeks, Cosmos and Iceland Poppies in my propagators). Nice to get my hands into that peat free compost again…

The border of suckering Lilac before clearing

The border of suckering Lilac before clearing

The border after clearing- ready for some annuals- marigolds?

The border after clearing – ready for some annuals- Marigolds?

I did a bit of tidying in the greenhouse, but more importantly cleared a border of some suckering Lilac. This is in a raised bed on the edge of my kitchen garden and though I did think about some sort of barrier fabric to try to keep the lilac back, in the end I don’t think that would be very effective. So, Im thinking it might be best to make this area an annual bed (maybe filled with Marigolds) both to look good and to help attract beneficial insects into my food growing area. This will also be less awkward when I need to cut back the Lilac again in a couple of years.

Finally, before the wind and rain arrived,I dug up a row of Nerine bowdenii bulbs (the ‘Cornish Lily’ or  ‘Guernsey Lily’- pink flowers in the autumn). Boy did they need splitting after being in the ground for a good number years- and now I have plenty of new bulbs to plant!

Nerine bowdenii flower

Nerine bowdenii flower

All very satisfying  after about three weeks inside! Looks like it’ll be wet today, so I may have to content myself with preparing some new blog posts and thinking about where to put those Nerines…any ideas?

Old School Gardener

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