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Creeping Sumac Makes a Colorful Groundcover Spring To Fall

Virtues: We love Rhus trilobata ‘Autumn Amber’ for its lustrous, aromatic deep green foliage that changes into radiant shades of amber, yellow, orange and red in fall. In spring before the new leaves emerge, bundles of tiny yellow-green flowers bloom. Small, rounded red fruits that persist until winter. It’s an interesting woody groundcover.

autumn amber creeping sumac

Common name: Autumn Amber sumac; creeping three-leaf sumac; skunkbush sumac

Botanical name:Rhus trilobata ‘Autumn Amber’

Flowers: In spring a profusion of small chartreuse-colored flowers bloom in delicate clusters before new foliage appears. Shadowing the lovely blossoms are tiny, berry-like hairy fruits that can last into the winter season.

Foliage: Glossy, three-lobed, fragrant deep green leaves fill the short stems in dense color. In fall the leaves transform into striking hues of ambers, yellows, oranges and/or reds before dropping for the winter.

Habit: With a compact, low-growing, spreading habit, Rhus trilobata ‘Autumn Amber’ typically reaches 18 inches in height and 6 to 8 feet wide.

Season: This lively groundcover alternative has an abundance of spring, summer and fall interest.

Origin: Selection of a species native to western North America.

How to grow Rhus trilobata ‘Autumn Amber’: Autumn Amber sumacs will grow successfully in most well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. These low-maintenance low shrubs are drought-tolerant, requiring little watering to flourish. USDA Zones 4–8.

Image courtesy of 'Autumn Amber' is a Plant Select award winner for 2014. For more award-winning plants plus new introductions, see our 2014 Plants We Love booklet, which is free to view online or download.
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