This beautiful shrub is found on the margins of swamps, and in wet meadows, frequently in large masses, many yards in circumference, which, when in bloom, in May, present a magnificent appearance. The flowers appear on the extremity of the branches, before the leaves are perfectly expanded, are of a fine purple color, and in shape somewhat resemble the Honeysuckle. I have been successful with this fine shrub, by taking large masses of it from the meadows, with the earth attached to the roots, and planting in moist soil; also by taking the suckers, which it throws up as freely as the Lilac. It will flourish without difficulty.
[The ancient classical name of the genus.]
This is highly ornamental in the shrubbery, on account of its elegant compound leaves, and bunches of rich scarlet berries. The shrub, which grows to the height of twelve to twenty feet, is ugly shaped, its branches being rather naked and crooked. It must, therefore, be planted with other shrubs, so as to conceal, as much as possible, its crooked, irregular stems and branches. There is no particular beauty in the flowers; but, in July and August, the heads of berries begin to assume a rich scarlet color, afterwards turning to purple, and remain conspicuous and beautiful into winter; while in autumn the leaves begin early to turn, and become of a red color, with various shades of yellow, orange, and purple. The ends of the branches, from their irregularity, and the abundant down with which they are covered, resemble the young horns of the stag, whence the popular name.
The Dwarf, or Mountain Sumach, - is another beautiful species, "found growing on dry rocks, or sandy hills, about the same height of the last, in favorable, protected situations, but usually about three to five feet. The varnished polish of the leaves, and the rich purple they assume in autumn, as well as the scarlet of the leafy heads of fruit, make this species one of the most beautiful of the genus."
This is a handsome, spreading, leafy bush, usually four to six, rarely ten, feet high. The leaves are compound, smooth, of a rich green. The flowers are disposed in a large green head, of yellowish-green color, and agreeable fragrance. The velvety crimson heads of berries on this plant, as on the others, are acid and astringent. The leaves are used in tanning.
This species is much cultivated as an ornamental shrub. It is a crooked, straggling growing plant, from ten to fifteen feet high. No attempt should be made to make it grow-straight by pruning, as it looks the best when left to itself, clothed with branches to the ground. Persons, ignorant of the habits of the shrub, often complain of nurserymen, because they do not give them regular-shaped plants; but this is impossible, and it is not desirable.
The foliage is handsome; the flowers are disposed in large panicles, first green, changing to a reddish-brown, and afterwards a brownish smoke color. The flowers, or appendages to them, have the appearance of downy silk, in light, airy masses, and the plant is nearly covered with these graceful clusters, which have some resemblance to puffs of smoke emerging from among the graceful leaves. It is propagated from layers very readily.
"We have two poisonous species of Rhus, which are briefly mentioned that they may be avoided. R. venenata, the Poison Sumach or Dogwood, is a handsome shrub, with foliage somewhat resembling that of R. glabra, but the leaflets are entire. The berries are in loose panicles, smooth and whitish. R. Toxicodendron, the Poison Ivy, is a very common climber upon trees, rocks, stone walls, etc. The leaves are compound, of three variously lobed or entire leaflets. This character of the leaves will distinguish it from the Virginia Creeper, for which it is sometimes mistaken, as that has five leaflets. To some persons these species are poisonous to the touch, and very susceptible persons are affected by being in their vicinity.
[The name said to be of Arabic origin.]
This is a very handsome ornamental species, producing pendent racemes of rich deep-red flowers, in May. The shrub is about three feet high; the foliage elegant. The plant is easily propagated by cuttings. I find it is rather tender, the extremities of the branches being often killed in this climate. Probably, if planted the north side of a wall, or where it is partially shaded with evergreens, it would succeed better. There is a white-flowered variety, and one with double flowers, which is very fine.
The flowers are of a bright crimson, and far superior in brilliancy to the preceeding, and like that somewhat tender.
A native of the far West; has in May a profusion of yellow fragrant flowers, which perfume the whole neighborhood. All the species are propagated from cuttings, in the same manner as the common Currant.
[Named in honor of Jean Robin, herbalist to Henry IV., of France.]
This is a beautiful flowering shrub, growing from three to ten feet high, bearing a great profusion of elegant rose-colored flowers, which are produced in dense, pendent racemes. The shrub commences flowering when only two feet high. It has long, rambling roots, which throw up numerous suckers. The branches are thickly clothed with stiff hairs. This is a very desirable species.
The Common Locust, R. Pseudacacia, is a well-known ornamental tree, but its liability to be destroyed by borers, makes it useless to attempt its cultivation. A variety of it, R. crispa, has curiously contorted leaflets.