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Distinguishing traits. Staghorn sumacs have long, compound leaves that give them a tropical look, and they bloom midsummer with 4- to 8-inch-long, greenish-yellow panicles. Full-grown plants have umbrella shapes and will colonize quickly via suckering and birds' spreading seeds.
Tiger eyes sumac (upper right) gives a garden bright color, intricate leaves and an exotic, tropical look.
"Prostrate and low-grow sumacs make wonderful ground covers," says Broek. "Cutleaf (Rhus typhina 'Laciniata’) and tiger eyes sumacs have intricate colorful foliage and fill in to form gorgeous thickets."
Shown here: Rhus aromatica 'Gro-Low' has a pleasing fragrance.
Planting notes. Rhus typhina can take over your yard if you're not careful, so I would not recommend planting it with the expectation of having one ornamental tree.