Flaming fruit and leaves
You first saw prairie flameleaf sumac, Rhus lanceolata, in this column when I interrupted an aster sequence to show you a welcome display of fall color that I ran into on November 11. On the alert for more color from this species now that I’d noticed its leaves beginning to change, three days later I went to a place along Spicewood Springs Rd. near Loop 360 where I’d photographed some of these small trees last year, and I found the scene you see here.
Flameleaf sumac is known for the varying reds that its leaflets turn in the fall, but they may first turn yellow, the color that predominates in this photograph. Like other species of Rhus, this one produces clusters of small but numerous fruits; they start out green, turn red, then dull down to gray or grayish-black. From these fruits, with ample quantities of sweetener added to mitigate the tartness, people have made sumac-ade.
© 2011 Steven Schwartzman