Shining Sumac (Rhus copallina)
Also known as Winged Sumac, Shining Sumac is probably best suited for natural or informal landscape designs. It can be a small tree or a large shrub with a short trunk and spreading branches. While it can be kept as a single small tree, it has underground runners that if left unmanaged will produce dozens of small Shining Sumac trees. If you are looking for a fairly dense shrubby barrier or screen that attracts birds, then this might be something to try. One way to contain this tree is to use it in a container. With some training however and some regular pruning, the Shining Sumac can be kept as an attractive small tree that would work very well along side a patio or deck.
This plant’s winged compound leaves, reminiscent of a giant fern's, are a rich, lustrous green, so shiney as sometimes to appear lacquered. The 12 inch long leaves are actually 7 to 27 leaflets arranged on a stem in alternate fashion. The leaflets are lance shaped and are hairy underneath. These winged, featherlike leaves turn a brilliant red in the fall which is when the Shining Sumac is at its best performance.
Shining Sumac flowers in July and August are greenish-yellow. They are small, borne on 3 to 5 inch wide pyramid-shaped panicles. Later dark red drupes or berries form on the panicles. They are about 1/8 of inch across and are covered with short, sticky, red hairs. The berries mature in September to October and if the birds don’t get them will give you some winter interest almost to spring.