Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Prairie flameleaf sumac fruit ripening

with 13 comments

Flameleaf Sumac Fruit 5928

In the last post you heard that plants in the sumac family typically make up for the small size of their flowers by producing dense clusters of them, and you saw that that’s the case with prairie flameleaf sumac, Rhus lanceolata. After fertilization, those dense clusters of flowers give way to dense clusters of small fruits, as you can verify here in a picture from September 3rd off Seton Center Parkway in northwest Austin. People have concocted sumac-ade from the fruits: I’ve had some, and I can tell you it was pretty tasty. As with lemonade, it takes a good amount of sweetener to offset the tartness of the fruit.

This is the second episode in a miniseries that is carrying prairie flameleaf sumac from the beginning of August through the latter part of November.

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 28, 2014 at 12:27 PM

13 Responses

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  1. I’ve often read about sumac berries making a kind of “lemonade” but have never tried it. They are starting to look yummy.

    Steve Gingold

    November 28, 2014 at 5:17 PM

    • Give it a try. You can find directions for making sumac-ade on the Internet.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 28, 2014 at 5:24 PM

      • Have you tried it….or are you enlisting me as a guinea pig? Actually, I have a very old Herbalist Guide which tells how to make the juice.

        Steve Gingold

        November 28, 2014 at 6:28 PM

        • I haven’t made it myself but I’ve tried it when other people have made it.

          Steve Schwartzman

          November 28, 2014 at 7:08 PM

          • BTW, I guess it’s a good thing you were not down at the police station paying a parking ticket earlier. There’s a lot of scary stuff going on all over the place.

            Steve Gingold

            November 28, 2014 at 7:23 PM

            • I hadn’t heard about it locally but I was surprised by a brief description a few hours ago when I turned on the national news.

              Steve Schwartzman

              November 28, 2014 at 7:52 PM

  2. Very nice!


    November 29, 2014 at 12:10 AM

  3. […] equipment with me. I’d say the phone did a commendable job, wouldn’t you? Notice how the fruit clusters darken as they age and dry […]

  4. i am frightened of any sumac, I don’t know the difference between poison and not. Everything is wet here and even new sumac springs up on thin flexing “trunks”. Definately wouldn’t drink or eat anything from them! yikes!


    November 30, 2014 at 8:27 AM

    • I’m not familiar with poison sumac, which in Texas grows only in a few counties over near Louisiana, but I found a web page with a bunch of pictures that might help you identify it:


      I see that it looks more like a “regular” sumac than like poison ivy, so I can see why you’re leery of it. If poison sumac grows in your area, you might check with a local college botany department or native plant society to find someone who can teach you to distinguish poison sumac from the innocuous sumacs.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 30, 2014 at 10:05 AM

      • 😀 when all else fails NEVER touch sumac!

        I think that I will ask though thanks.


        November 30, 2014 at 10:22 AM

        • “Better safe than sorry” is a prudent approach, but it’s a shame to miss out on close encounters with the large majority of sumacs that are harmless.

          Steve Schwartzman

          November 30, 2014 at 10:30 AM

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