In braided, catkin-like heads, the buds of fragrant sumac stand stiffly erect on the dark brown twigs all winter Long. Then when March comes to the sand hills and to the sandy roadsides and woods where the low tangles of fragrant sumac thrive, the stiff buds suddenly loosen, expand, and become Little bouquets of bright, lemon-yellow flowers. They are abundant enough to cast a yellow glow upon a Landscape only Lately rescued from winter. The earliest insects flock to the odorous Little flowers. The first mourning cloak butterflies, clicking their dry dark wings through the pallid sun-Light in search of something sweet, find it here among the sumac bushes. Later, the flowers are replaced by clusters of bright red, shiny seeds heavily studded with long white hairs and pale down; the fruits are food for robins and other birds late in summer.
Rhus aromatica Ait.
Early spring Sandy woods.
All summer long the leaves, which do not appear until well after the flowers, are dark glossy green. They are aromatic when crushed, as are the stems, and resemble in shape the poison ivy. The sumacs in fact, are closely km to poison ivy, but there is no hint of that evil influence in the fragrant sumac. Another very similar species, whose leaves are disagreeably scented when crushed, is the ill-scented sumac.
Fragrant sumac has become much used in plantings around build-. where its abundant flowers, long before most other plants bloom, make it a welcome addition to city gardens.