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Featured Plant: Staghorn Sumac

January 6, 2019

Rhus typhina, the staghorn sumac, is a small colonizing tree native to eastern North America. It is in the family Anacardiaceae, which includes cashews, pistachios, and poison ivy.

While autumn is usually the prime season to highlight sumac species, staghorn sumac is striking in winter, and easily identified by its antler-like structure, persistent burgundy seed heads, and dense, velvety reddish-brown hairs which cover the branches of the previous two years’ growth. Botanist Carl Linnaeus described this species as one with “rough branches like antlers in velvet.” Thus, its common name.

The fruit of this tree can be steeped in cold water to make a delicious pink lemonade-like beverage. The roots, inner bark and leaves make an excellent natural dye. Beekeepers sometimes use the dried flowers as a fuel source for their hive smokers.

On the High Line between 14th and 15th Streets.

The High Line’s planting design is inspired by the self-seeded landscape that grew up between rail tracks after the trains stopped running in the 1980s. Today, the High Line includes more than 500 species of perennials, grasses, shrubs, and trees – each chosen for their hardiness, adaptability, diversity, and seasonal variation in color and texture. Some of the species that originally grew on the High Line’s rail bed are reflected in the park landscape today. Every week we share one of our gardeners’ current favorites with you.

Our horticultural team counts on members and friends like you to help keep the High Line beautiful and thriving. Join our community of supporters who play an essential role in the High Line’s most important gardening projects.

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TD Bank is the Presenting Green Sponsor of the High Line.