I have the traditional Smooth Sumac growing in my garden, and while I do appreciate its rapid growth and indestructible nature, not to mention the fabulous foliage colour in autumn, I wish ‘Tiger Eyes’ was around fifteen years ago when I landscaped that section of my garden. This exciting introduction is much less “territorial” than traditional types and the transformation of its brilliant foliage from first emergence in spring, through to maturity in summer and finally to fall is breathtaking.

A deciduous shrub which grows only to 1.5 metres high and wide, making it much smaller than other types of sumac. Hardy to -35 deg. C. Needs full sun for maximum foliage colour. Will thrive in most soil types except those which are heavy or wet.

New growth emerges in spring as a bright chartreuse. Within a few weeks it changes to yellow, remaining like this until October. At that point the foliage takes on all the colours of autumn; reds, oranges and yellows. It’s a plant that grabs your attention each time you look at it. Stems are an attractive purplish-pink and the foliage is finely cut. ‘Tiger Eyes’ is an elegant plant in all four seasons.

There is no shortage of potential partners for this plant. The yellow foliage combines with a host of blue, pink or purple flowered perennials such as salvia, daylilies or liatris, or with purple-foliaged plants like heuchera (coral bells). Heat-loving annuals such as petunias, gazanias, marigolds or portulaca would compliment or contrast nicely with the foliage and if you want to get really creative underplant with some of incredible foliage colours of coleus. ‘Tiger Eyes’ would be an excellent candidate for planting on its own in a large, dramatic container, looking spectacular in all four seasons.

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