Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Prairie flameleaf sumac flowers

with 2 comments

Click for greater clarity.

As you heard last time, I recently ended up in my photo archive from 2007, but I didn’t say what had taken me there: it was a search for a picture showing the flowers of prairie flameleaf sumac, Rhus lanceolata, whose colorful autumn leaves featured prominently in several posts last year, particularly one on December 11. As is characteristic of the sumacs, the plants’ flowers are tiny; in this species they’re only about an eighth of an inch across, but what they lack in size they make up for in numbers.

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 25, 2012 at 6:12 AM

2 Responses

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  1. I’m continually astonished how much variation there can be in a single plant as it goes through its seasons. The beauty of your approach is that we learn to recognize plants by other than their most distinguishing characteristic. Bright, colorful autumn sumac? I spot it every time. I never would have looked at this photo and said “sumac”, even though the leaves are right there to see.


    September 25, 2012 at 6:41 AM

    • Plants, even long-lived ones like trees, vary a lot more over the short term than people do. It’s fun to fantasize a world in which we would flower or turn colors seasonally in more than a metaphorical way.

      But back to reality: it is one of my goals to portray native plants in their various stages, but it can be difficult to accumulate pictures, and especially good pictures, of all the main ones. We have so many native species, and one photographer can’t be everywhere all the time.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 25, 2012 at 7:44 AM

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