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The Globe and Mail

This plant can handle just about anything

The new foliage of the staghorn sumac is almost lime green.

by marjorie harris The Globe and Mail

WHY YOU SHOULD PLANT IT: A cloud of golden-chartreuse foliage, staghorn sumac holds up through just about anything except serious drought. It will beautifully fill in blank spots in any border. The new foliage is almost lime green, the mature is chartreuse-gold and it all turns a thrilling scarlet in fall. It the winter, the tree looks like a velvet stag horn, as its common name suggests. And it's an astounding container plant surrounded by black grasses and a black potato vine.

WHERE TO PLANT IT: It will hold up in sun to part shade, but make sure to site it properly, with room enough to accommodate its two-by-two-metre volume (less in colder climes like Winnipeg). It hates being transplanted, doesn't like wet feet and isn't drought-resistant. What it does like is well-drained, humus-rich soil and deep watering a couple of times a week.

WHAT IT OFFERS: A soft foliage that is a magnificent foil for evergreens or great filler when all the perennials look sad in late summer. While the literature says it's good for massing, it will in fact mass all by itself, so don't believe all the hype about this being the sumac that won't travel. It does, though much more slowly than the species you see floating along highway embankments. When it goes into dormancy, remove its suckers: This about all the maintenance it needs.

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SOURCE AND COST: The price can fluctuate from $27 to $67, depending on the size of the plant. Toronto's Sheridan Nurseries (www.sheridannurseries.com) has Rhus typhina 'Tiger Eyes' in stock for $39.99.

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