Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

What happens to prairie flameleaf sumac’s leaves in the fall

with 14 comments

Prairie flameleaf sumac turning colors 7339

On November 17th I photographed some prairie flameleaf sumacs (Rhus lanceolata) beginning to do their autumn thing on an undeveloped property off Seton Center Parkway. As you look at what was the last of just over a hundred photographs I took on my visit to the site in northwest Austin on that sunny fall afternoon, let your eyes wander over the dense compound leaves that still favored yellow and orange over the red that is usually the destiny of this species, prime and reliable source of fall color that it is in central Texas, and prime as well in my life as a photo follower of the seasons here.

Today’s is the third episode in a little series that is carrying prairie flameleaf sumac from the beginning of August through the latter part of November. At the same time, this post begins a tribute to fall in central Texas that will go on for the next couple of weeks. Fasten your seat belts ’cause it’s going to be a colorful ride.

(I’ve decided to postpone more pictures from the Great American Southwest Adventure so you can see some of the wonderful things that have been going on in central Texas before they get too out of sync with the dates of my posts. The trip pictures are already a couple of months old, so they’ll keep just fine and should provide a good contrast with the bleaker weather we’re liable to get here in late December and January.)

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 29, 2014 at 5:20 AM

14 Responses

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  1. It’s on fire. Very nice frame filler and well-balanced too, Steve.

    Steve Gingold

    November 29, 2014 at 6:47 AM

    • Thanks, Steve. In some of the pictures I took I included panels of sky at the top to contrast the bright blue with the warm colors of the foliage. As a photographer you noticed a different goal in this image: to fill the frame as much as possible with leaves.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 29, 2014 at 6:58 AM

  2. “I’ve decided to postpone more pictures from the Great American Southwest Adventure …”

    Just so long as you don’t shortchange us on those photos. 🙂 Love the desert and mountains!


    November 29, 2014 at 7:20 AM

    • Have no fear of getting shortchanged, Craig. I won’t desert the desert for too long, but the fall foliage made a claim that had to be honored.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 29, 2014 at 7:31 AM

      • I’m totally down with Fall color. I don’t want to be shortchanged there, either. Maybe you can wrap up both genres by mid-January.


        November 29, 2014 at 7:39 AM

        • We’ll see. A lot depends on what happens here in December. A few years ago I showed a sunflower that managed to thrive here in that month, as well as an Indian paintbrush that was flowering half a year out of season.

          Steve Schwartzman

          November 29, 2014 at 7:47 AM

  3. It’s been such a glorious autumn. The crepe myrtles by my house have wonderful splashes of red and gold, I’ve been marveling at a couple of oak trees that are turning. They start inside with the older leaves and they are yellow while the newer ones are still green. Thanks for your sumac photos. I love sumac and it’s tasty (the berries are at any rate).


    November 29, 2014 at 8:04 AM

    • Happy fabulous fall to you, Nancy. You mentioned marveling at a couple of oaks, and that’s what I did the other day when I found some colorful ones outside of Austin (with a picture to appear here over the next couple of weeks).

      It’s good to hear you’ve ventured to taste sumac fruit. I’m glad you find sumac’s fall foliage visually tasty as well.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 29, 2014 at 8:23 AM

  4. I love the fine delicate texture the leaves create…A wonderful element to work with when creating any image.

    Charlie@Seattle Trekker

    November 29, 2014 at 9:16 AM

    • Every fall during the four that have fallen in the tenure of my blog I’ve gone to this site to photograph the same group of sumacs. The visual texture of the many leaflets hasn’t disappointed me yet, nor is it likely to.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 29, 2014 at 9:26 AM

  5. As you know, I always enjoy your series, and this is no exception. I enoyed seeing in close succession the buds/flowers, then the fruit, then drawing back to the full glory of the flaming leaves. As we sit here in a whole lotta snow and bitter cold (too soon!), I look forward to a photographic fall extender, as it were!

    Susan Scheid

    November 29, 2014 at 4:19 PM

    • I thought about your fondness for series when I put this one together, Susan.

      Last week I was out at a preserve in the Hill Country and met a couple visiting from Pennsylvania. It occurred to me that they got to have two autumns this year. These pictures can be a vicarious second fall for you, or a fall extender as you cleverly put it, even as you’re living an early winter.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 29, 2014 at 4:54 PM

  6. Great idea~ a fall extender 🙂


    December 1, 2014 at 11:04 PM

    • I can extend here, but the weather’s more fickle. After 70s and partly sunny and an unexpected and unexpectedly productive encounter with flameleaf sumac on Sunday, yesterday we dropped back to cool and heavily overcast and breezy, so remaining leaves have been falling.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 2, 2014 at 7:16 AM

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