Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Prairie flameleaf sumac at its peak of color

with 12 comments

In yesterday’s photograph you saw prairie flameleaf sumac, Rhus lanceolata, at its colorful peak but out of focus behind a greenbrier vine that had lasssoed a goldeneye flower stalk. Now here’s a look at some vibrant flameleaf sumac leaves in the foreground, where you can get a better look at them. This time what’s out of focus in the background is a paloverde tree, whose branches and leaves in their young light-greenness contrast with the red of the sumac.

The date was November 20, and the location an undeveloped property behind Seton Northwest Hospital in my section of Austin.

Happy beginning of December and happy fall color, which I’m still finding in our flameleaf sumacs.

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman


Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 1, 2012 at 6:13 AM

12 Responses

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  1. The twisty flames really come out in this one.

    The World Is My Cuttlefish

    December 1, 2012 at 3:50 PM

  2. Do my eyes deceive me, or does this sumac have a bit of wing on the stems? ~Lynda


    December 1, 2012 at 7:36 PM

    • Your eyes are faithful witnesses: each compound leaf’s central stem is indeed winged, and those wings also turn red. I’ve seen cases where all the leaflets have fallen off and all that remains is a chain of red wings.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 1, 2012 at 10:01 PM

      • I am going to be going out and checking to see if the wings are still on mine. 😉


        December 1, 2012 at 10:23 PM

  3. […] of a paloverde tree, Parkinsonia aculeata, whose green branches and leaves served as an out-of-focus background yesterday for a colorful prairie flameleaf sumac, Rhus lanceolata, here’s a closeup showing the tip of […]

  4. I love the show of color that sumac puts on every fall!


    December 3, 2012 at 7:56 AM

    • Me too. I even vaguely remember it from my childhood on Long Island, but of course up there so many trees turn colorful in the fall that the diminutive sumac hardly stands out unless you see one in isolation. Here in central Texas we’re a far cry from the fabulous fall colors of the deciduous forest of the Northeast, so local trees that turn take on a special significance. Flameleaf sumacs are our most reliable and widespread source of fall color, and that’s one reason I’ve featured them four posts in a row, at the risk of trying the patience of some of you up north for whom fall color is not as rare as it is down here.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 3, 2012 at 8:21 AM

  5. […] flameleaf sumac provides one of the largest displays of cooling-weather color in central Texas, agarita provides […]

  6. […] (Rhus lanceolata), of which I’ve shown you many good examples in other years (for example in 2012 and in 2015). However, I did find a few small instances of bright leaves from that species this […]

  7. […] three native sumac species, produces colorful fall foliage, though not on the scale of our renowned flameleaf sumac. The third species, Rhus virens, is known as evergreen sumac. (In fact Latin virens means […]

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