This hardy, low-growing shrub withstands poor soil conditions well, provided the soil is well-drained. In gardens, fragrant sumac prefers slightly acidic soil that is medium to dry. Full sun to partial shade is preferred, with full sun locations providing the most vivid fall foliage. Fragrant sumac is drought, deer and rabbit resistant, but attracts butterflies and birds.
In landscaping, fragrant sumac shrubs provide ground cover and are suitable for stabilizing areas that are susceptible to erosion, such as embankments. Fragrant sumac is particularly useful as ground cover in areas with poor soil conditions. The shrub naturally forms thickets when left undisturbed. Fragrant sumac is suitable for planting in clusters or dense colonies, or can be planted alone as an accent in butterfly gardens.
The plant propagates through suckers, or underground growths that form from the parent plant. The suckers can be removed, or allowed to grow to create a colony. The aromatic sumac releases a fragrant scent when the leaves are crushed or bruised. The leaves are a medium shade of green and have a trifoliate, or three-lobed, tip and smooth leaf margins.
In autumn, the leaves turn shades of yellow, orange and red. In early spring, small yellow flowers appear in clusters on the tips of the branches in female plants, while male plants produce catkin-like blossoms. Sometimes, both clusters of flowers and catkins appear on the same plant.
After the blooms fall off, bright red berries grow in clusters on the branches. The berries are covered in fine hair and attract birds and other wildlife. The berries often remain on the branches until the following spring.