3 Leaf Sumac - Rhus Trilobata

Hartinez

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This thread will be to document the development of my collected Sumac. The ones I’ve already collected and the ones to come. My property in the east mountains of Albuquerque is loaded with them and I just love them. A very cold hardy, drought tolerant plant that puts a lovely fall color show. Most all of the specimen I’ve seen do not have big trunks, but the zig zag growth they put out makes for a character filled, elegant trunks. They will all undoubtably be cultivated as a literati, or very elegant informal upright. Wether they will fit in to a style or not, they are native here in the 505 and that is worth exploiting at the very least. I’ve wired a few of these, but will wire the rest in the coming weeks. They were all easy to collect and all but one has died. I will also try chopping some down significantly lower at some point. They will also produce berries and flowers at some point. We shall see how they take to pot culture. So far so good.
 

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Leo in N E Illinois

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I have the related species, also 3 loved leaves, Rhus aromatica, fragrant sumac. I love the fragrance of the leaves, when just brushing them. Similar, but not as strong as copal, Bursera. Mine are only 3 year old seedlings, can't say much about them as bonsai.
 

LittleDingus

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I have a couple of aromatica in the 5 year native tree challenge:


Aromatica is the common native here vs your trilobata. The leaves are very similar...but my understanding is our "fragrant sumac" has a more pleasant smell than your "stinkbush" ;)

They are dioecious: plants are either male flowered or female flowered. Only the female plants make fruit.

Mine are males. They are starting to form next year's flower buds now.

20210730_140232.jpg

I don't believe the females form flower buds until the spring. I only ever notice the females around here when they are in fruit though.

20210730_140217.jpg

They may not make the greatest tree form, but I've come to enjoy these guys quite a bit!
 

Hartinez

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I have a couple of aromatica in the 5 year native tree challenge:


Aromatica is the common native here vs your trilobata. The leaves are very similar...but my understanding is our "fragrant sumac" has a more pleasant smell than your "stinkbush" ;)

They are dioecious: plants are either male flowered or female flowered. Only the female plants make fruit.

Mine are males. They are starting to form next year's flower buds now.

View attachment 389019

I don't believe the females form flower buds until the spring. I only ever notice the females around here when they are in fruit though.

View attachment 389018

They may not make the greatest tree form, but I've come to enjoy these guys quite a bit!
Stink bush, skunk bush. Yeah they are supposed to be stinky. Good think I’m not grinding the leaves up!! All of mine looked much the same as yours at collection but Because I’m training them to have a more elegant form than there natural growth habit, I cut back to a more pleasing silhouette and branch structure. After all, we are doing bonsai! Yours also could be cut back and regrown, but if the shrub look is your end goal then have fun with it for sure. Regardless, I think they could be a great as accents to other trees or display setups.
 

LittleDingus

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Stink bush, skunk bush. Yeah they are supposed to be stinky. Good think I’m not grinding the leaves up!! All of mine looked much the same as yours at collection but Because I’m training them to have a more elegant form than there natural growth habit, I cut back to a more pleasing silhouette and branch structure. After all, we are doing bonsai! Yours also could be cut back and regrown, but if the shrub look is your end goal then have fun with it for sure. Regardless, I think they could be a great as accents to other trees or display setups.

I don't have much experience with these in pots :( The other one I'm going more of a cascade with. This one I wanted to get in a tiny pot to see how it would handle our hot humid summers on a small root ball. It's done much better than I expected!

I was initially thinking of hacking this one back quite a bit but didn't because I think they are just as likely to sucker than pop back buds. I've grown to like this one more shrubby. I might see how it fills in for a bit. Chopping is easy...putting branches back is a little harder ;)

Both were a nursery buy from the same can. The oil slick they left behind after that first repot was impressive! And quite potent! Not quite an unpleasant smell...but strong!
 

Hartinez

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I don't have much experience with these in pots :( The other one I'm going more of a cascade with. This one I wanted to get in a tiny pot to see how it would handle our hot humid summers on a small root ball. It's done much better than I expected!

I was initially thinking of hacking this one back quite a bit but didn't because I think they are just as likely to sucker than pop back buds. I've grown to like this one more shrubby. I might see how it fills in for a bit. Chopping is easy...putting branches back is a little harder ;)

Both were a nursery buy from the same can. The oil slick they left behind after that first repot was impressive! And quite potent! Not quite an unpleasant smell...but strong!
I almost forgot to post a pic of something amazing (at least to me) on these! When I cut them back they produced a sap almost immediately that completely covered the cut site. I’ve seen sap produce on conifers and some deciduous, but never like this. It’s literally like natural cut paste.
3C3BF908-5FAF-4AD6-8409-2B2D2E2B201A.jpeg

also, nursery trilobata do not have near the same character as the wild ones. The nursery variety are def thicker, much thicker in some cases, but the bark is a light gray and smooth.
 

Hartinez

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Any thoughts on why they died? When did you collect? How much root were you able to get?
I got very little root on every single one of these. They have all begun pushing roots out the bottom of the nursery pot I put them in though. The one that died I chopped back to very short stubs. I pushed buds but died about a month later. My estimation is that I didn’t have a enough roots to push new growth. I’m willing to bet if I chopped hard on one of these next spring they would bud like crazy.
 

LittleDingus

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I almost forgot to post a pic of something amazing (at least to me) on these! When I cut them back they produced a sap almost immediately that completely covered the cut site. I’ve seen sap produce on conifers and some deciduous, but never like this. It’s literally like natural cut paste.
View attachment 389023

also, nursery trilobata do not have near the same character as the wild ones. The nursery variety are def thicker, much thicker in some cases, but the bark is a light gray and smooth.

Mine do that too. It dries pretty ugly. If I clean it off too soon, it reforms. I've also had a bit of wire bite that has caused the same kind of sapping. Might watch out for that!

I got very little root on every single one of these. They have all begun pushing roots out the bottom of the nursery pot I put them in though. The one that died I chopped back to very short stubs. I pushed buds but died about a month later. My estimation is that I didn’t have a enough roots to push new growth. I’m willing to bet if I chopped hard on one of these next spring they would bud like crazy.

Did you collect them after they were leafed out? I'm surprised at the low amount of roots at collection. Aromatica roots very easy...lots of fine feeders too. They are sold in nurseries here as "erosion management". The nurseries usually carry a cultivar called "gro-lo" that is a lower growing wider spreading variety. Basically wherever a branch touches consistently damp soil, they'll root. People use "gro-lo" as a decorative ground cover on hillsides subject to erosion because they grow thick mats of roots near the surface. Perhaps that's one of the differences between aromatica and trilobata?

I'm hoping for your sake that another difference is how they back bud :D From what I've seen of aromatica in the wild, it would just as soon throw new suckers than back bud. I've seen where they've been chopped by the weed hog and none of the chopped trunks budded...but a ton of new suckers popped from the area around those trunks! That's partly why I didn't hack mine back yet also. I'm thinking the foliage may need to be chased back.

I'd love to see if yours do back bud profusely though! It might give me the confidence to chop mine more aggressively!
 

Colorado

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Great thread Danny, looking forward to seeing how these develop! Here’s mine - looks awfully similar to yours from the mountains near Albuquerque! 😜 I managed to get it to lose the finer ramification, but at least it seems to be strong and healthy. Looking forward to that fall color!
B7E5DC1C-A01A-4350-A2FA-0F4021E39965.jpeg
 

Hartinez

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Great thread Danny, looking forward to seeing how these develop! Here’s mine - looks awfully similar to yours from the mountains near Albuquerque! 😜 I managed to get it to lose the finer ramification, but at least it seems to be strong and healthy. Looking forward to that fall color!
View attachment 389124
Looks great. I think these trees will do great as elegant thin trunked trees. When you see one at a nursery youll see the clear difference between the wild ones and the wild ones. Especially in the trunk color and texture.
 

HorseloverFat

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Yes, this one seems to be showing the beginnings of some nice bark already!
With my native/naturalized Rhus, You have to Remember to keep options open until you KNOW what the tree WANTS to keep...

Sumacs around here have the shortest growing season of most of our trees. So they tend to produce 3-5 “chutes”.. but KEEPING only 1-2..i have noted this in the wild patches as well as in containers... I wonder if this is a geographical phenomenon..

🤓

(Whoops, sorry @Colorado , replying DIRECTLY to your post was unnecessary 🤣)
 

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