Welcome to the Kentucky Native Plant and Wildlife Blog.

Welcome to the Kentucky Native Plant and Wildlife Blog.
The purpose of this blog is to provide information on using native plants in the landscape, issues related to invasive exotic plants, urban wildlife management, and wildlife damage management. It is my intention that this information will assist you in deciphering the multitude of information circulating around the web and condense in some meaningful method as it relates to Kentucky. In addition, I hope to highlight a native plant that can be used in the landscape.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Plant of the Week: Winged or Shining Sumac (Rhus copallina)

Kentucky has four species of sumac in the state, three are common, and one is rare.  The smooth sumac (Rhus aromatica) and winged sumac (R. copallina) are the most widely used for landscape purposes and the winged is probably a much better choice because it doesn't get as tall (usually no more than 10') and it is not as aggressive in its suckering and the leaves are darker more glossy green color in the summer.  In the fall, they turn brilliant scarlet red and because of this they are sometimes called "flameleaf" sumac. The way to tell the difference between the two species is to look at the toothed leaflets in aromatic versus untoothed in winged and the "wings" between the leaflets in winged sumac.The tiny, greenish-yellow flowers, borne in compact, terminal panicles, are followed by showy red clusters of berries which persist into the winter and attract wildlife. This is a great wildlife tree for the following birds: Northern bobwhite, wild turkey, ruffed grouse, yellow-shafted flicker, catbird, cardinal, bluebird, brown thrasher, hermit thrush, robin, phoebe, crow, and starling. A variety of insects also use this plant including a variety of moths and red-banded hairstreaks and Spring/summer azures.  It also provides outstanding fall and winter interest in the landscape.  It is very easy to grow, particularly in poor soils that may be rocky, sandy, and even clay soils, nutrient poor soils, and acidic, basic, or neutral soils. It will tolerate urban pollution, poor drainage, is very drought resistant, and has few problems except some, but not much in the way of, leaf spots, rust, scale, mites, and aphids. The best use for this is in naturalized plantings where the root suckers can be controlled or in areas with erosion problems.

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