Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Fall color!

with 23 comments

I was going to show you a closer look at heath asters in today’s post, but yesterday some fall color intervened, so here it is, hot off the [Word]Press. Take that, you lovers of red and orange.

Central Texas doesn’t have the great displays of autumn leaf color that so many people in northern regions revel in (and that I remember fondly growing up with in New York), but down here we do have prairie flameleaf sumac, Rhus lanceolata, and it’s our most widespread and reliable source of color at this time of year. In saying “this time of year” I mean November or even the first part of December, months when for many of you in other places the deciduous trees have long since lost their leaves to the cold and the early dark. That’s one advantage of a southern latitude.

I found this young flameleaf sumac living up to its name alongside a utility driveway leading to a sump behind Seton Northwest Hospital in my likewise described—minus the Seton and the Hospital—part of Austin. Several of the older flameleaf sumacs on this property were great in 2010, but so far this year those trees aren’t doing much when it comes to warm colors; perhaps they still will. In the meantime, this little one is the best I’ve seen in 2011, and not at all bad in its own right, so I’m passing it along to all of you.

For more information about Rhus lanceolata, you can visit the websites of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center and the USDA.

© 2011 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 12, 2011 at 5:07 AM

23 Responses

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  1. IMHO, the sumacs rival any others for color in fall, maples next, oaks… not so much (they look rusty) and we have bazillions of those here. Come to think of it, the oaks do make a great foil for the others!
    ~ Lynda


    November 12, 2011 at 11:31 AM

    • I’m with you when it comes to the sumacs. We’d have drearier autumns in Austin without them.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 12, 2011 at 7:59 PM

  2. We just got our first fall colors a little farther north in Dallas this week, mostly yellows and oranges, with a smattering of red thrown in. Fall is so fleeting here in Texas, and the colors depend so much on the amount of rain we’ve had, which makes the short time frame all the more wonderful.

    chasing now

    November 12, 2011 at 2:31 PM

    • I’m glad you’re getting some color up there. Aside from the bit of flameleaf sumac here, I haven’t seen much else.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 12, 2011 at 8:00 PM

  3. so beautiful~
    today we have snow, and so autumn goes


    November 12, 2011 at 2:38 PM

  4. Their rarity in your environment makes them all the more prized. Stunning red leaves.


    November 12, 2011 at 6:13 PM

    • You’re right about their rarity making them all the more prized. I can’t get enough of the sumacs.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 12, 2011 at 8:03 PM

  5. Great colors! Very cheery. 🙂

    Emily Gooch

    November 12, 2011 at 9:55 PM

  6. Great colors on the sumac. The species of sumac we have here is very colorful too.


    November 12, 2011 at 11:37 PM

  7. I love this time of year. The colors are amazing.


    November 13, 2011 at 6:59 AM

    • After the summer we had, which was the hottest on record, it’s good to be in a period when only the colors of the sumacs are hot.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 13, 2011 at 7:17 AM

  8. Thanks for passing by our blog, that was nice from you. Really fantastic photos and very selective ones. Have a nice day!


    November 19, 2011 at 7:27 AM

  9. […] 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 […]

  10. Beautiful picture!


    December 1, 2011 at 9:02 AM

  11. beautiful bright red!

    mimo khair

    December 8, 2011 at 6:06 PM

  12. […] undeveloped lot next to Seton Northwest Hospital from which I first brought you a picture of the changing of the colors back on November 12. The young tree you saw then followed the natural course of things and lost its […]

  13. […] Examples that you’ve seen so far have been the leaves of rattan, Texas red oak, cedar elm, flameleaf sumac, and even poison ivy. Cometh now a native grass that botanists call Chasmanthium latifolium, and […]

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