Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

A loss of color and a chance for progeny

with 26 comments

Do you remember how appealing flameleaf sumac (Rhus lanceolata) can be when its leaves turn colors in the fall? Here’s a reminder from an undeveloped property behind Seton Northwest Hospital on December 4 of last year.

Flameleaf Sumac Turning Colors 0556

I went back to that property on January 12, well after all the sumacs’ leaves had fallen, and had a clear shot at this cluster of tiny fruits on one of the trees.

Flameleaf Sumac Fruit Cluster Drying Out 1786

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 31, 2016 at 4:46 AM

26 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. We were out for a walk yesterday in the 45˚ sun. Nice for mid-January. I noticed how everything was bare of any growing parts. Soon this will all change.

    Jim Ruebush

    January 31, 2016 at 7:29 AM

  2. Most of the sere fruit has been eaten by hungry critters here. Looks like a raisin bush.

    Steve Gingold

    January 31, 2016 at 8:36 AM

    • Ooh, a raisin bush: where can we get one? Actually these couldn’t even pretend to be currants, given their small size.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 31, 2016 at 8:57 AM

  3. Probably because of the arced branch at the top, this reminded me of several other of your photos, including this one of the little hard fern koru. Both photos are reminiscent of a bishop’s crozier, too. Perhaps the photo’s a sign that nature’s beginning to shepherd winter out the door.


    January 31, 2016 at 9:17 AM

    • At a predicted 83° this afternoon, that shepherd is working overtime.

      The so-nicely-curved arc across the top of the cluster is the feature that appealed to me here. I don’t think it’s typical but I don’t know if I’ve paid enough attention to say with any assurance. I’ll try to remember to check that out at the end of the year.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 31, 2016 at 10:43 AM

  4. I love the sumac – it is seldom that we see them wild here though – the county and farmers’ mowers make sure to keep everything dreadfully clean of anything that might look colourful or God Forbid, feed wild bees!

    Cecilia Mary Gunther

    January 31, 2016 at 10:13 AM

    • I have to deal with the depredations of mowers here too. Fortunately the site where I’ve been going for years to photograph this flameleaf sumac is left alone and seems unlikely to get developed. I sure hope I’m right about that.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 31, 2016 at 11:19 AM

    • Celi, if you have a place for them I can send you seeds. They come up pretty easily. 🙂


      February 1, 2016 at 7:31 AM

  5. It is such an interesting plant, I do love its amazing fall color. I don’t think I have ever really stopped to look at the fruit.

    Charlie@Seattle Trekker

    January 31, 2016 at 12:52 PM

    • Plants in this botanical family tend to have inconspicuous flowers and fruit. If it weren’t for the fact that sumac leaves turn bright colors in the fall, people probably wouldn’t pay much attention to these small trees.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 31, 2016 at 3:01 PM

  6. We could use a bit more attention by your shepherd up here. Another winter storm is on its way, with a new snowfall of around 8 inches predicted to start tomorrow afternoon. I’m preparing my joints and muscles for a new round of shoveling. It will be good exercise. It will. It will.


    January 31, 2016 at 3:12 PM

    • I’m sorry to say that snow in January/February in the northern Great Plains is par for the course. That’s why I live down here and not up there. Might it be time to invest in a snow blower and let your joints and muscles take a rest?

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 31, 2016 at 5:47 PM

      • Doesn’t happen often enough to justify it. Besides, this is likely to be our last winter here. And we have helpful neighbors when it gets really deep.


        February 3, 2016 at 8:56 AM

  7. What beautiful colors that sumac has. I love the curve of the branches with the fruit!


    January 31, 2016 at 3:52 PM

    • I’ve delighted in the colors many times, but I don’t think I’d noticed such a strongly curved little branch forming an arc above the fruit.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 31, 2016 at 5:49 PM

  8. Steve, you know I love sumac for many reasons and I have spoken before about using the seeds for spice. Well, this morning I found instructions for the preparation of the Staghorn sumac seeds. I also learned that it is the Staghorn sumac that is best for this process. For any who are interested here is the link: http://www.seriouseats.com/2013/09/foraged-flavor-all-about-sumac.html


    February 1, 2016 at 7:32 AM

    • I remember that you mentioned using sumac seeds as a spice, Lynda. Thanks for the link to that article about how to prepare the seeds. I hope I’ll get to sample some sumac seasoning one of these days.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 1, 2016 at 7:56 AM

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: