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About two years ago I planted a Rhus Typhina which has now grown to about 6ft tall.  However, it has two main stems which fork at about 9" from the ground.  One stem is perfectly straight and the other is at a 45 deg angle.  Unfortunately, a couple of days ago, I found the straight stem laying on the ground as it had split from the angled stem for no apparent reason.  It has not sheared off completely so I've strapped it back into position but it's obviously dying.  I've a feeling I'm going to have to take this stem off but can I take cuttings from it and if so how. 

Once I've taken this off, I'm going to be left with a tree which is leaning at a 45 degree angle.  Would it be adviseable to dig it up and put it back in the ground so it will stand straight.

Please can anybody help?



Gary Hobson

The roots of these plants are very shallow, and can cover quite a large area. If you try to dig up the plant then it's likely that you'll cut a lot of these roots. Personally I wouldn't replant.

Rhus can take hard prunning. Some people reduce the height every year, usually in the Spring. Cutting back is said to make the leaves larger (I'm not sure if it does). But it does keep the plants compact, and makes the foliage a lot denser, and prevents them from becoming leggy. I prune most of mine back every year, to about 6'.

Or you may prefer not to prune, and to have a larger and more open tree.

They do have a tendency to topple over or for limbs to break. If that was my plant, I'd secure the existing branch, how it is, with a stake, to make sure it remains safe. Then come next Spring, I'd cut that back, a bit. New shoots will also come up from dormant buds on the main stem, and they can form the main tree in time.

When these trees are damaged, they sometimes throw up suckers (little plants) over the entire area covered by the roots. You may get some free ones, which you can detach and transplant, or just mow over them. Suckering often happens when a large tree falls over (and they do).

Apologies for the late reply but I just wanted to say many thanks for the information.  I have now severed the broken branch and supported the remaining one.  I am looking forward to watching it's progress and appreciate your advice on pruning.

Thanks again,


my Rhus is over 30years old, and approx 15ft high, the main trunk has a split of about 14ins with a thick resinous goo exuding from it. There a sucker growing next to the trunk which i have kept as a replacement. The problem is it next to a garden wall, in a very small area, and is always putting out suckers. The foliage seems to get thiner each year, and the flower small and pale. The birds love this tree as the branches are wide. Being next to the road i am fearful that it will topple, and land on my car. Help what can i do.

G Evans N. Wales

Gary Hobson

Large sumac trees are very unstable, even those in good health. The roots are very shallow and they can easily topple over in high winds.

If you have a large tree that looks dangerous, then I'd cut the top off in a controlled manner.

If a large sumac tree is cut down then you will inevitably get a lot of suckers coming up over the entire area covered by its roots. You should be able to control these, and leave one or two to make new replacement trees.

Sumacs normally respond well to hard pruning. Prunning should create bigger leaves. You can keep a sumac tree trimmed to 6 feet or so, and that normally creates a nice full head of big leaves.


I have this tree I bought last year and planted, it had beautuful red branches and leaves, then at the end of last year all the branches fell off and now I have only a stick - what has happened?! Can anyone help?!



This plant can take over your garden. Roots can go quite deep and pop up anywhere. It can be a real thug
Pruning encourages this suckering. Sorry to offend those who love this tree...and its foliage is lovely.....but it's not something I would have in my garden.

I inherited this plant when I moved in to my flat.  Originally I had two fairly large trees, both of which have long since gone but the suckers are horrendous.  They are pushing my patio up.  I think I may have to lift the paving stones and dig out the root which is a huge job so if anyone has a better idea please tell me.  

It definitely appears to be true that pruning encourages suckers. 


Rhus tymphina, sumac, stag's horn - they're all the same tree  - yes?

I have tried killing the suckers (I no longer have the original tree - my garden is tiny and it was enormous) using root killer.  The b******s keep growing. They are also in my neighbours garden but he mows short and regularly. Is there any  way to kill this plant?

I have the same problem as Sarah Marshall i bought my tree in sept and now all i have is a stick. All the branches have fallen off. Is this usual?



Rhus typhinia have large compound leaves comprised of many leaflets either side of a central stem.  The whole leaf will drop in the autumn - there will be loads more in the spring.

 i agree with verden,

  My garden had one that was damaged in the wind' shortly after many little ones all over top of the lawn. be wise get a rowan instead.

Hi; wonder if someone could help? We have a large sumac tree which overhangs a majority in our garden but the trunk(s) are behind our neighbours shed so I can't see the base if it. Last year I thought it was leaning. About August the leaves started to wilt. My husband removed a ton of brambles from it thinking that was the cause but this year it looks likes its leant over even more and only signs are life are on a few lower branches. However the main trunk has growth sprouting on it but not on the branches. How can there be growth on the trunk and some branches but not all? It looks like its a 3 part trunk if that makes sense?

This tree is a lovely tree and provides so much privacy so will be sad if it's a goner. Any ideas on what to do?

 Last autumn my neighbour cut down his Rhus Typhina as it was completely leaning over our garden and because the root system was producing suckers In my garden. Unfortunately this did not prevent the development of further suckers which were numerous. Over the past few days I have had to completely remove around 15 foot of bricked paving so as to dig up the roots and hopefully prevent further suckers......I am still digging - I cannot seem to get to the end of the root system,,,!, I want to remove this pest forever. Do I have to completely remove individual roots or can cutting them some way along their total length do the job. Also where he cut down the tree new suckers seem to be appearing and I fear all my hard work will be to no avail If it regenerates itself and produces new roots which eventually start appearing in my garden. Help

Advertisement have my sympathy.  I too inherited a tree which had been cut down twice.........2 years on, I am still trying to kill it

The original tree was planted between a concrete built pond and my neighbour's house wall .........not the best situation and so restricted, the tree has suckered under neighbour's foundations, thru the wall of my pond and is still continuing to spread as I speak.  Impossible to remove the original stumps without demolishing neighbour's house so I persevere.

I have the feeling I'll be trying to kill the wretched thing for years to come.

It is an attractive tree but in most domestic instances is proof positive of the wrong thing in the wrong place

I also have a rhus typhina that lost all it's leaves and left me with a stick last summer! However don't despair, come spring this year it flourished and looks absolutely wonderful this year!.

I am considering getting one; however after reading the forum notes I am becoming doubtful; can someone advise- if I make a deep barrier with plastic sheet- would it stop suckering? most circumstances, the tree will only throw up suckers when it is cut down, damaged or otherwise too drastically pruned.  Planting it with a plastic sheet will do little good.

They are beautiful trees but in the average domestic situation, they can be a disaster waiting to happen..........maybe not for you in the short term but possibly later on....either for you or whoever takes your garden on in later years.

There are a number of equally attractive trees which you could consider.......just as much pleasure but far less angst

My leaves seem to be wilting and not as healthy as usual. Could over watering cause this? Also the tree was over pruned last year and the leaves are smaller as well as the flowers. Advice please as to bringing the tree back to full health please.