Monday, October 04, 2010


I love the vibrant red of Sumac in the fall!

This is Smooth Sumac, which is non-poisonous, and is considered a native invasive. That is, even though it is native to the area, much like honeysuckle, it is prolific and can crowd out other native species such as ferns, grasses and flowers--and even young trees. Mowing as a means of control is ineffectual as the plant quickly recovers, while burning or using goats (who will eat the entire plant including the bark) is best. The UW-Arboretum tries to perform a controlled burn of prairies and savannas every couple years.

Some Middle Eastern cultures grind the fruit (called drupes) of sumac to use as a lemony-flavored spice. The drupes were also used in many medieval medicines, particularly in Islamic countries, and as a dye. One interesting fact I read is that an 11th century shipwreck, excavated off the coast of Rhodes in the 1970s, contained large enough quantities of sumac drupes to be use as a spice, dye or in medicines.


Alice Audrey said...

Wait, does that mean the sumac is native world round?

Heather said...

Alice: Not quite. It is native to subtropical and temperate regions, found primarily in Africa and North America.

Anonymous said...

These colors are why I love fall so much!

Jana said...

I've heard of Sumac but I don't think we have any 'round here. Not that I've seen. I love the color, though.

We have lots of Kudzu (which is NOT native to North America) and it takes over EVERYTHING. It'll overtake YOU if you stand still to long. lol

Heather said...

Stacy: Color is one of the things that makes fall my favorite season!

Jana: ROFL... You know, I probably saw kudzo on one of my long ago trips south, but darned if I know what it looks like. Sounds on a par with honeysuckle and sumac, though.

Alice Audrey said...

Well that's almost the world around.