Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Tiger Eyes Staghorn Sumac
Rhus typhina ‘Bailtiger’
(roos) (ty-FEE-nuh)

I have been growing Sumac for a while now. The Cutleaf Staghorn ( Rhus typhina 'Laciniata') and Dwarf Fragrant Sumac (Rhus aromatica ‘Gro-Low’) are handsome plants. I think I have a little patch of another species at one of the gardens I take care of. They seem happy growing in rocky unimproved soil with little water.

I tried ‘Tiger Eyes’ when Bailey Nurseries introduced it in 2004. I forgot about it until I saw a couple of beautiful specimens at Wave Hill. I went and checked mine and found the deer had grazed them down to nothing. Well not everything as it was sprouting a couple of small leaves at the bottom. The color on this plant is amazing. I once said there are three things I like about gardening; color, color and color, and boy does this one have color. Using a plant like this at the end of a border adds three seasons of color. The fall color on Sumac is outstanding and I also find the furry ‘antlers’ of some winter interest. I will have to try a few more of these. It is too good of an accent plant to give up on. They will just have to be sited in a deer protected location.

The garden or cultivated types of Sumac should not be confused with Poison Sumac or the invasive types. Poison Sumac grows in moist areas and the only way I know to identify it is by its berries, which are a green and white and hang downwards.

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