Thursday, March 13, 2008

Sumac Surprise

Yesterday I was taking a break, walking around the Brooklyn Bridge Park area. I noticed that many of the branches of the Staghorn Sumacs (Rhus typhina) planted there were broken, people snapping them for the clusters of red drupes that sit atop the branches. Going over to inspect the damage, I noticed for the very first time why these are called "Staghorn" Sumac. I always thought it was because the branches resemble the antlers of a young stag, which is true, but more than that, it is because the sumac branches are covered in a fine hair, giving them the appearance of a young stag's new antlers.

The hair was soft, felt-like, and attractive up close. I was amazed at discovering this. I really like Sumac, so easy to grow and very attractive. However it does spread, so you may need to have the room to let it go or hem it in with an underground barrier. I really like the cultivar Rhus typhina 'Laciniata', growing in two locations at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden. Isn't it beautiful?

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