Plant of the Month

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Evergreen Sumac
Rhus virens

If you need a tall evergreen shrub or small tree that is incredibly tolerant of drought, wind, heat, sun, and cold, and is also resistant to insect pests, disease, and rabbits, look no farther. This sturdy plant is also tolerant of problem soils like clay and caliche soils.

  • Plant Form: Evergreen Shrub, Small Tree
  • Water Use: Low
  • Mature Size: 8-12 ft. tall x 10-15 ft. wide
  • Exposure: Full Sun, Part Sun
  • Bloom Time: Summer (June-Aug), Fall (Sept-Nov)
  • Native to: Arizona, New Mexico, Texas
  • Hardiness: Cold hardy to 5°F 

Evergreen Sumac is a very adaptable, large, evergreen shrub that tolerates every stressful desert situation thrown at it: burning heat, freezing cold, extended drought, nutrient-poor soils, and even difficult clay and caliche soils. Given all these challenges, this sumac still grows into a beautiful, rounded specimen plant with lush, glossy, green leaves that can turn maroon after frost. Some leaves may drop after winter, but they are quickly replaced within a week with a new crop. Birds, butterflies, and bees all enjoy its late-summer, tiny white flowers and red fruits (fruit is only produced on female plants). The fuzzy, red fruits were historically soaked in water to make a refreshing lemonade-like drink high in vitamin C. This sturdy plant generally repels insect damage, disease, and rabbits. Left in its natural form, Evergreen Sumac makes a thick hedge, screen, barrier, or background plant, but it can be pruned to grow tree-like with a single, straight trunk.

Check out our “Garden Tasks” for September