Rhus Typhina

About two years ago I planted a Rhus Typhina which has now grown to about 6ft tall.  However, it has two main stems which fork at about 9" from the ground.  One stem is perfectly straight and the other is at a 45 deg angle.  Unfortunately, a couple of days ago, I found the straight stem laying on the ground as it had split from the angled stem for no apparent reason.  It has not sheared off completely so I've strapped it back into position but it's obviously dying.  I've a feeling I'm going to have to take this stem off but can I take cuttings from it and if so how. 

Once I've taken this off, I'm going to be left with a tree which is leaning at a 45 degree angle.  Would it be adviseable to dig it up and put it back in the ground so it will stand straight.

Please can anybody help?





  • Gary HobsonGary Hobson Posts: 1,892

    The roots of these plants are very shallow, and can cover quite a large area. If you try to dig up the plant then it's likely that you'll cut a lot of these roots. Personally I wouldn't replant.

    Rhus can take hard prunning. Some people reduce the height every year, usually in the Spring. Cutting back is said to make the leaves larger (I'm not sure if it does). But it does keep the plants compact, and makes the foliage a lot denser, and prevents them from becoming leggy. I prune most of mine back every year, to about 6'.

    Or you may prefer not to prune, and to have a larger and more open tree.

    They do have a tendency to topple over or for limbs to break. If that was my plant, I'd secure the existing branch, how it is, with a stake, to make sure it remains safe. Then come next Spring, I'd cut that back, a bit. New shoots will also come up from dormant buds on the main stem, and they can form the main tree in time.

    When these trees are damaged, they sometimes throw up suckers (little plants) over the entire area covered by the roots. You may get some free ones, which you can detach and transplant, or just mow over them. Suckering often happens when a large tree falls over (and they do).

  • WebskenWebsken Posts: 2

    Apologies for the late reply but I just wanted to say many thanks for the information.  I have now severed the broken branch and supported the remaining one.  I am looking forward to watching it's progress and appreciate your advice on pruning.

    Thanks again,


  • my Rhus is over 30years old, and approx 15ft high, the main trunk has a split of about 14ins with a thick resinous goo exuding from it. There a sucker growing next to the trunk which i have kept as a replacement. The problem is it next to a garden wall, in a very small area, and is always putting out suckers. The foliage seems to get thiner each year, and the flower small and pale. The birds love this tree as the branches are wide. Being next to the road i am fearful that it will topple, and land on my car. Help what can i do.

    G Evans N. Wales

  • Gary HobsonGary Hobson Posts: 1,892

    Large sumac trees are very unstable, even those in good health. The roots are very shallow and they can easily topple over in high winds.

    If you have a large tree that looks dangerous, then I'd cut the top off in a controlled manner.

    If a large sumac tree is cut down then you will inevitably get a lot of suckers coming up over the entire area covered by its roots. You should be able to control these, and leave one or two to make new replacement trees.

    Sumacs normally respond well to hard pruning. Prunning should create bigger leaves. You can keep a sumac tree trimmed to 6 feet or so, and that normally creates a nice full head of big leaves.

  • I have this tree I bought last year and planted, it had beautuful red branches and leaves, then at the end of last year all the branches fell off and now I have only a stick - what has happened?! Can anyone help?!



  • sarahh5sarahh5 Posts: 1

    I inherited this plant when I moved in to my flat.  Originally I had two fairly large trees, both of which have long since gone but the suckers are horrendous.  They are pushing my patio up.  I think I may have to lift the paving stones and dig out the root which is a huge job so if anyone has a better idea please tell me.  

    It definitely appears to be true that pruning encourages suckers. 

  • MrsGardenMrsGarden Posts: 3,736

    Rhus tymphina, sumac, stag's horn - they're all the same tree  - yes?

  • I have tried killing the suckers (I no longer have the original tree - my garden is tiny and it was enormous) using root killer.  The b******s keep growing. They are also in my neighbours garden but he mows short and regularly. Is there any  way to kill this plant?

  • I have the same problem as Sarah Marshall i bought my tree in sept and now all i have is a stick. All the branches have fallen off. Is this usual?


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