The palette of shrubs on the high line made a lot of sense to me. They are primarily tough plants and while not all are native, most of them are associated as colonial plants; plants which can inhabit a difficult environment.
Rhus typhina or staghorn sumac, definitely belongs in this category. You've probably seen this plant on the sides of highways or growing in craggy areas where few other plants succeed. The plant is called staghorn sumac because of the fuzzy stems -- they almost resemble the hairy antlers of a stag.
Below is another Rhus, Rhus glabra or smooth sumac.
Like most Rhus species, the plant has a characteristic red seed head, which as you can see, is quite beautiful.
Finally, a third Rhus, Rhus aromatica or fragrant sumac. I love this plant. It's tough, has great fall color and it emits a spicy aroma when the leaves are crushed. Of course, it's important to know the difference between this plant and it's more aggressive cousin, Rhus dermatitis, or poison oak.
I've spoken about Cotinus coggygria two times in the past. It's a plant I don't really love, since it seems so alien in almost any landscape. However, the small whips of this tree (or is it a shrub? It seems to occupy the no-man's land between these two categories...) that dotted the High Line seemed right.
And it's hard to deny the brilliance of its autumn color.