Autumn Amber three leaf sumac: A spreading shrub for urban landscapes

Rhus trilobata Autumn Amber Plant SelectAutumn Amber sumac is a perfect groundcover shrub that can serve as living mulch, especially if you are weary of your mulch blowing away in the wind. It brings a graceful vegetative life to sunny spaces, and it thrives in heat and drought.

Autumn Amber sumac softens the hardscape of terraced walls and rock features and brings a naturalized look to the landscape. This is a dependable selection that establishes readily in one season with regular irrigation.

Once established, Autumn Amber will cover sizeable space, so it is a good choice for larger landscapes.

Managing the growth is a simple task. Use hand pruners to trim branches to the desired length. To remove winter leaf debris, you can easily spruce up this groundcover shrub in the spring with a leaf blower or a rake.

Fall color will vary from yellow to deep amber depending on the season. This is an easy, western native plant to love for its durability and its easy to grow nature. Add in the attractive foliage and low maintenance, and Autumn Amber Sumac is sure to become a landscape staple for gardens in Colorado, Utah and the intermountain west.

View the plant profile here.

Rhus trilobata ‘Autumn Amber’
Height: 10”-14”
Width: 6’-8’
Blooms: Insignificant to humans (but attractive to native bees)
Sun: Full sun to part sun
Water: Dry to xeric
Hardiness: Zones 4-8
Culture: Sandy soil, loam, well-drained clay

Thanks to Ross Shrigley for submitting this piece.

11 responses to “Autumn Amber three leaf sumac: A spreading shrub for urban landscapes”

  1. Deb Lachowetz says:

    I am a new gardener and just planted a row of 5 autumn Amber sumac and behind them 4 yellow potentilla in a 34’ long by 6 ‘ -8 ‘ wide space.
    My question is what else can I put in between sumac and/or potentilla with blue or purple color keeping with low water care?

    • Ross Shrigley says:

      Keeping with a native, low water theme try Mojave sage, Colorado desert blue star, Autumn Sapphire, Narbonne blue flax, Windwalker big bluestem or Blue Jazz dwarf pinon pine. Happy planting!

  2. Robyn Dolgin says:

    Is Autumn Amber deer resistant? tx.

    • Ross Shrigley says:

      The Plant Select literature may state that Autumn Amber sumac is deer resistant, but there is plenty of evidence all along the foothills where the deer browse on the larger native Rhus trilobata. In town, the deer have so many other things to eat that they may not eat Autumn Amber sumac.

      • Ursula Rogers says:

        I have a sloping area in my backyard covered with this plant. Right now two deer are having a great time snacking on it but I really don’t care because this plant grows right back. I call it Mother Nature’s pruning and she’s just saving me some work. This is a great no maintenance ground cover and it never gets watered in my yard.

        • Ross Shrigley-Plant Select says:

          Thank Ursula! I know a lot of people have this plant grow much larger than expected. One can also slow its growth by not watering it. It also takes dry shade!

  3. lin says:

    chickens? will they eat this? will it make them sick?

  4. Stephanie says:

    Will this plant survive if snow is piled on top of it in the winter?

    • Ross Shrigley says:

      Yes it will! However, branches may break if there is a snowplow pushing snow onto it, otherwise it will work great!

  5. L.Hankerson says:

    Are there berries or flowers? Any wildlife uses?

    • Ross Shrigley-Plant Select says:

      Yes, flowers are important to one species of native bee, but I don’t know the name of that bee.

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