Rhus typhina, commonly called staghorn sumac, is the largest of the North American sumacs. It is native to woodland edges, roadsides, railroad embankments and stream/swamp margins from Quebec to Ontario to Minnesota south to Georgia, Indiana and Iowa. This is an open, spreading shrub (sometimes a small tree) that typically grows 15-25’ tall. It is particularly noted for the reddish-brown hairs that cover the young branchlets in somewhat the same way that velvet covers the horns of a stag (male deer), hence the common name. It is also noted for its ornamental fruiting clusters and excellent fall foliage color. Large, compound, odd-pinnate leaves (each to 24” long) are bright green above during the growing season and glaucous beneath. Leaves turn attractive shades of yellow/orange/red in autumn. Each leaf has 13-27 toothed, lanceolate-oblong leaflets (each to 2-5” long). Tiny, greenish-yellow flowers bloom in terminal cone-shaped panicles in late spring to early summer (June-July), with male and female flower cones primarily occurring on separate plants (dioecious). Female flowers produce showy pyramidal fruiting clusters (to 8” long), with each cluster containing numerous hairy, berry-like drupes which ripen bright red in autumn, gradually turning dark red as they persist through much of the winter. Fruit is attractive to wildlife. Easily grown in average, dry to medium moisture, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Tolerant of a wide range of soils except for those that are poorly drained. Generally tolerant of urban conditions.
- Scarify the seeds by nicking or sanding the seed coat.
- Soak the seeds in water for several hours.
- Put a mixture of potting soil and sand or perlite into a pot with drainage holes in the base. The soil should be moist and well-drained.
- Sow the seeds on the soil.
- Cover the seeds with a thin layer of soil.
- Water the seeds. Keep the soil moist but not wet.
- When the plants are a few inches tall, they can be transplanted.