Smooth Sumac, Rhus glabra is a spreading native shrub that is very attractive to bees when blooming. There are several native Sumacs in North America. Most have similar growth habits, some growing taller than others.
Sumacs are adaptable and thrive in difficult places, poor soils and steep slopes and dry places are no problem for these shrubs. It has a mounding habit and grows 8′ to 12′ tall and wide with time. They actually are better suited to areas where they can be allowed to spread. They can be contained by mowing the young sprouts that come up where they are not wanted.
Smooth Sumac blooms in June and July after most spring flowers are gone. They are an excelent source of pollen for building brood. It is hardy in zones 3 to 9.
Fall color is another great attribute of Sumac. They turn a brilliant flame red early in the fall that stands out against the still green foliage of the landscape around it. The dark red seed heads are attractive to over wintering birds.
Those red seed heads can also be harvested and made into a refreshing pink “lemonade” that is quite healthy. The dried seeds are also used as part of seasoning mixes in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine
These are not the same as the infamous Poison Sumac which is a relative of Poison Ivy. It has white berries and is a lowland plant.