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Stag’s Horn Sumach

By June 11, 2017Seed Banks
seed banks

Stag’s horn sumach is a shrub or small tree, 4-8 m high, often forming groups which develop from root suckers. Annual shoots are stout, rusty-brown, velvety hairy, with a prominent rust-coloured pith. The buds are small and rounded. Greenish flowers appear in June, followed by fruits ripening in October and remaining on the shrub throughout the winter. It throws out stump and root sprouts freely. Propagation is by means of seeds or root cuttings.

This shrub is a native of eastern North America from Indiana northward to Canada. It grows on rocky hillsides and dry banks, mostly on limestone. It requires abundant light but will grow on poorer and drier soils. It has been cultivated in Europe for several centuries, being valued for the vivid colouring of the foliage in the autumn and the ornamental fruits.

Because of its dense root system and tendency to develop root suckers it is also sometimes planted on hillsides to prevent erosion. In some parts of Europe experiments are being carried out to cultivate it in plantations for tannin, as its leaves contain up to 25 per cent of this substance.

Tamarisk is a thin shrub or small tree, 2-7 m high. The shoots are slender and green to reddish brown. The short terminal twigs are shed together with the leaves. The buds arc small, the leaf buds slightly pointed, the flower buds round. The pink flowers are borne from June till the end of July. The capsules ripen and split in September. The seed retains its powers of germination for only a few weeks and must be sown in moist soil.

The fruits ripen at the end of September; green at first, they turn black as they mature and contain four three-sided seeds which, when sown, germinate in the spring of the following year. Though it produces few shoots from cut stumps, it often throws out root suckers.

It requires full sun and adequately moist soil, best of all with underground water level close to the surface. In more northerly regions it is greatly damaged by frost. Propagation is by woody, winter cuttings.