Aromatic Sumac – Revisited


This is a risky post. The first time I posted about the aromatic sumac that is so common at Roundrock, one authority suggested that I had misidentified the plant in my photo. (It wasn’t really my photo.) The second time I posted about aromatic sumac, the authority was silent, but he may have just been biting his Georgia tongue. So I tread with trepidation when I state that the plant in this photo is also aromatic sumac. (This one is my photo.)

Assuming my identification is correct — and let’s assume that — these are the flowers of aromatic sumac, and they are an uncommon sight to us.

The deer seem to love eating these flowers. More often than not, we find the ends of these twigs nipped off with no flowers present. As a consequence, we rarely see the fuzzy red fruits that aromatic sumac is alleged to produce. We do managed to see the vivid red-orange that the leaves turn in the fall. That’s pretty nice.

Aromatic sumac, also known as fragrant sumac and even skunk bush and polecat bush, gets its common name from the smell the leaves give when crushed between the fingers. Unlike poison ivy, to which its leaves bear a good resemblance, aromatic sumac does not cause a maddening, itchy rash (though I am of the unverified opinion that some people are just sensitive to everything and will break out in an angry red rash just at the thought of green plants).

Missouri Calendar:

  • Look for flowering dogwoods.
  • Average day of last frost in northern Missouri.

16 Responses to “Aromatic Sumac – Revisited”

  1. Tjilpi Says:

    Missouri Calendar:

    Look for flowering dogwoods.
    Average day of last frost in northern Missouri.
    Time to buy seven new pairs of red undies.
    Plan visit to Cabela’s for Terry Towelling Hat.

  2. doubleknot Says:

    Glad you got to see and take pictures of the flowers before the deer got to them.
    On your other post that flower is so delicate looking – great picture and with your hand in there we can see how small the flower is. It is easy to over look the really small beauties.

  3. Wayne Says:

    I was stuck on that Georgia tongue comment for awhile. Can’t imagine who it might have been.

    Anyhow, the flowers clinch it! Look here Not nearly as nice as your picture though!

  4. endment Says:

    I had never seen the blossom… Thanks for sharing.

  5. karl Says:

    the dogwoods are blooming in full force here in southern missouri. i’m bringing my camera today and hope to catch them in full glory–along with some stone work tools.

  6. Thunder Says:

    Well, it looks like the third time is a charm! Your tenacity seems to have paid off!

  7. Rurality Says:

    I started to post a pic of our fragrant sumac today but figured I had enough already and left it out. I wonder if ours is slightly different though… everyone seems to talk about how much this plant stinks, and ours smells great!

  8. dread pirate roberts Says:

    last day of frost? we wish it were so here.

  9. bill Says:

    I never had actually noticed the flowers on this plant.

    I like the smell too.

  10. Hick Says:

    Boy…sure is pretty. All this dogwood talk…I’ll have to check and see if our wild ones are blooming…I think I’ll take my shiny new red bike.

  11. FloridaCracker Says:

    I don’t think we have that one.

  12. Jude Says:

    There’s always something interesting to be learnt from your pages. The sumac you picture is not a plant I am familiar with. Do you know its botanical name? Wikipaedia lists a host of different sumacs found in various countries of the world. I had only heard of the middle eastern one – a tree that produces an interesting ground spice, also called sumac, that was recently introduced to me by a Syrian friend. You can see a picture of this handsome tree here – Maybe parts of your bush are also edible!

  13. bill Says:

    There are two different plants that I know of called aromatic sumac. There is Rhus aromatica and Rhus trilobata. They look similar. The second one occurs in more arid climates than the first, so I assume yours is Rhus aromatica.

  14. Wayne Says:

    Through Via Negativa, I found a remarkable flower lookalike.

    Benzoin Spicebush, or Lindera benzoin.

    The leaves though, don’t match those of your original post!

  15. Wayne Says:

    OHO – I see now that if you put a URL in your comment, that it must be passed after moderation.

  16. Randy Tindall Says:


    If you don’t mind mind, I’d like to use the anecdote of the sumac/poison ivy mixup on my own blog. I’ll link the story back to this page. I think it’s great how he fooled himself into getting a reaction. Please let me know if this will be a problem. Thanks!

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