Skunkbush (Squawbush; Sumac; Skunkbrush Sumac)
Family: Anacardiaceae – Cashew Family
Shrubs; 1.7' to 8.3' (0.5 to 2.5 m) tall
Leaves: alternate; simple (Rhus aromatica var. simplicifolia), leaves 0.08” to 0.12” (2 to 3 mm) long; or compound with 3 leaflets (Rhus aromatica var. trilobata); leaflets 0.32” to 3.72” (0.8 to 9.3 cm) long, 0.24” to 2.8” (0.6 to 7 cm) wide; leaves 0.08” to 0.12” (2 to 3 mm) long
Flowers: 5 yellowish petals, developing prior to the leaves; 5 sepals; 5 stamens; 3 styles. Polygamous or dioecious. Flowers in compact clusters; 0.08” to 0.12” (2 to 3 mm) long
Pollinators: bees; not self-fertile
Fruits: red or red-orange drupe
Blooms in Arches National Park: March, April, May
Habitat in Arches National Park: dry areas in desert shrub and pinyon-juniper communities
Location seen: park road near visitor center, park road mile 0 to 2.5, Windows, Delicate Arch trail, Fiery Furnace, Tower Arch
Other: The genus name, “Rhus”, is the Greek name for sumac and the species name, “aromatica”, means “aromatic or strong smelling” which refers to the odor of the crushed leaves.
Did You Know?
In the late 1800s, John Wesley Wolfe, a disabled Civil War veteran, and his son, Fred, built a homestead in what is now Arches National Park. A weathered log cabin, root cellar, and corral remain as evidence of the primitive ranch they operated for more than 10 years.