How to Prune Pubescent Skunkbush Sumac


Pubescent skunkbush sumac is a deciduous shrub found growing in North America and south into Mexico. Used by Native Americans in food and beverages, they also wove the grass stems into baskets used to hold water. Useful for windbreaks and erosion control, skunkbush sumac also provides food and shelter for small mammals and birds. Skunkbush sumac grows in an upright shrub that reaches up to 7 feet tall. Its leaves turn bright orange and yellow in the fall, making the sumac a favorite planting tree along recreation areas and roadsides.

Step 1

Prune pubescent skunkbush sumac in the fall after most of the leaves have fallen. Fall pruning will ensure healthy and hardy growth the following season.

Step 2

Prune back the top of the sumac with pruning shears, and cut to the terminal bud, which is the main area of growth on the sumac. Prune all lateral branches or side branches that are gnarled and twisted. The goal is to produce one tall and strong branch leader.

Step 3

Remove any diseased, bent or broken branches by cutting off the entire stem. Remove all insect-infested areas of the shrub to avoid contaminating the bush. Prune to a natural form, the preferred method of the sumac and make sure you don't over-prune.

Step 4

Prune to one main or central branch, and cut off all thin stems on young sumacs. This will free up essential nutrients to the remainder of the young shrub. Cut off all suckers shoots or small stems growing out of the base structure of the sumac.

Things You'll Need

  • Pruning shears


  • Pubescent Skunkbush Sumac Plant Guide: USDA
  • Virginia Tech University: Fact Sheet
Keywords: pruning skunkbush sumac, pubescent skunckbush sumac, skunkbush sumac

About this Author

Callie Barber is a writer and photographer in North Carolina. Her work has appeared in Forbes and Automotive News magazine. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in international studies from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.