Plant Encyclopedia

Autumn Amber Sumac

Rhus trilobata ‘Autumn Amber’

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Autumn Amber Sumac, thick branches with green leaves

Discover More Information On Autumn Amber Sumac

Do you have a space in your yard that needs to be spruced up? Those bare spots can get a little visual help from the Autumn Amber sumac (Rhus trilobata ‘Autumn Amber’). This beautiful shrub thrives in those hot, dry spots throughout the western part of the United States. With its striking foliage and rugged appearance, the Autumn Amber sumac will become a showstopper in your landscape.

Plant Attributes

This native North American shrub was discovered in New Mexico. The unique ground cover shrub stays low to the ground and grows flat. The stems are centered away from the plant, and they can be easily trained in any direction. The Rhus trilobata ‘Autumn Amber’ is a fast-growing variety that can establish healthy and deep roots in just one season. Once the shrub has been established, it covers up those large spaces in your landscape.

If the foliage is crushed, it produces a very fragrant scent. You can enjoy the deep green foliage throughout the summer. During the fall, the color develops into shades of deep amber to bright yellow. You might even spot some oranges mixed into the autumn foliage.

Landscape Use

The Autumn Amber can soften up rock features, patio corners, and terraced walls. With its rambling habit, this sumac can naturalize any type of space. You might want to plant this variety at the top of a retaining wall and allow it to descend over the side. As a result, your landscape will look like it has a green waterfall of sumac foliage.

Any of those rock gardens and dry areas can benefit from planting a few Autumn Amber sumacs. You can even use it to add some color to those spaces with rock or stone mulch. These sumacs are a perfect choice for planned garden beds or modern foundation plantings. You will need to give the Rhus trilobata ‘Autumn Amber’ plenty of space to thrive. They need room to achieve their full spread.

If you want to create an eye-catching landscape, make sure to use these sumacs in a mass planting. Use a zig-zag pattern to space out the plants. You want to plant them 2 feet apart from the center of each sumac. With this mass planting, you should consider adding mulch to suppress weeds and keep in the moisture.

Planting & Care

The Rhus trilobata ‘Autumn Amber’ loves USDA hardiness zones 3 to 7. If you want the best results for this shrub, it does require well-draining soil in full sunshine. These sumacs need at least 4 hours of direct sunlight per day. Those younger plants require a moderate amount of water to help them established. After the first growing season, you don’t have to worry about supplemental moisture.

Pruning is a simple way to keep those radiating stems from overtaking a space. The branches lay close to the ground. However, if you need to prune, you will want to cut them in the early spring before the growing season. The stems can be easily cut with the help of hand shears.

After the leaves have dropped in the fall, the cleanup is simple. Use a small rake or leaf blower to remove those spent leaves. Other than that, there is no need for extensive care for this sumac.

Additional Information

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Autumn Amber Sumac


This ground covering sumac is a western version of the Gro-Low. The Autumn Amber’s foliage remains a glossy green color throughout the growing season. As its name suggests, this sumac puts on a dazzling golden yellow display in the fall. If you have a xeriscape, this is an exceptional choice for those spaces. With its excellent color, this sumac will fit into any space in your yard.

If you want to purchase this fantastic sumac, make sure to reach out to Arbor Valley Nursery. We are a shrub nursery that offers a large selection of products. Please take a few minutes to fill out the contact form to learn more about this spectacular shrub.

Plant Features

  • Plant Type: Shrub
  • Watering Needs: Low
  • Botanical Pronunciation: roos try-lo-BAY-tuh
  • Deciduous/evergreen: Deciduous
  • Growth rate: Fast
  • Average landscape size: Reaches a height of 18 inches and width of 8 inches
  • Special features: Fast-grower, lush foliage
  • Foliage color: Glossy green
  • Blooms: Mid-spring
  • Flower color: Chartreuse
  • Flower attributes: Small flowers in delicate clusters
  • Garden style: Xeriscape, rock gardens
  • Design Ideas: Perfect for xeriscape gardens. With its low water needs, it excels in any space with low moisture. Since it is a fast grower, this sumac helps to cover up those bare spaces in your landscape quickly. Eye-catching appeal when used as a mass planting.
  • Companion Plants: Mojave sage, Colorado Desert blue star, Autumn Sapphire, Windwalker big bluestem, or Blue Jazz dwarf pinyon pine

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