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A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Thursday - October 18, 2007

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Diseases and Disorders
Title: Flameleaf sumac problems
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I have three flameleaf sumacs, which were planted last December. One is doing very well, but two are losing their leaves. First, black spots appear on the leaves, then the leaves turn yellow and wilt, and then they turn black and fall off. Can you offer any suggestions?

ANSWER:

Rhus copallinum (winged sumac), also called flameleaf sumac, is considered a drought and pest resistant native shrub, excellent for this area. However, we had a very strange summer, with a lot of cool weather and moisture for two months and then summer came back with a vengeance and doesn't seem planning to leave. Mr. Smarty Plants was asked a similar question about a relative of the Flameleaf sumac, Rhus virens (Evergreen sumac) and you can follow this link to our answer. As we noted in that answer, it could be that the plants in your garden need some trimming for more air, and checking their drainage to make sure they are not standing in soggy soil. Because it is a native, the sumac usually gets along very well in this part of the country. Another consideration is that the Rhus copallinum (winged sumac) is deciduous as opposed to the Evergreen sumac, which is not. Perhaps partly because of the weather this year, your sumacs may have chosen to drop their leaves a little early. Hopefully, time, patience, normal (for Texas) weather, and perhaps a little attention to drainage around the roots of your plants will get everything back to what you expected from your plants.

 


Rhus copallinum

 

 

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