The Q&A Archives: African Sumac

Question: Recently I purchased a multi-trunked African Sumac for planting in my yard. Upon delivery I noticed dry leaves from one of the trunks of the tree. I planted the tree hoping that in time with sufficient watering, that this tree would spring back to life. It has been a couple weeks and the leaves are still dry. Will it come back to life? Maybe in the spring?

Answer: African Sumac (Rhus lancea) is an evergreen tree that grows to 25 feet with an open, spreading habit. The leaves are divided into three dark green leaflets 4-5 inches long. It can take high summer heat and is hardy to about 12F. Your new tree sounds as though it's had some damage in shipping and may be going through some transplant shock, as well. Allow the plant several more weeks to become adjusted to its new home before expecting any new growth. You can safely remove any dead leaves or damaged stems (doing so will encourage new growth). Although Sumac is drought-tolerant, be sure to supply ample water (one-inch per week) until the tree is established. By next spring its need for regular watering will be much less, and by the end of next autumn it should get along with only supplemental waterings if the season is very dry.

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