Saturday, November 21, 2009

Celebrating Sumac!

Why celebrate sumac? They provide food/shelter for wildlife and they are beautiful. Although there are many more reasons, those are enough for us!

Here in the Guadalupe Mountains we have about 6 species, 4 of which are the most commonly seen. Lanceleaf Sumac (Rhus lanceolata) has, get this, lance-shaped leaflets. Littleleaf Sumac (R. microphylla) has, believe it or not, tiny leaflets. Fragrant Sumac (R. trilobata) has leaves that are - don't let go of your seat - three-lobed (per trilobata in the Latin name). Finally, Evergreen Sumac (R. virens, var. choriophylla) has leaves that are - drumroll please - evergreen! So I suppose that, from a selfish perspective, another reason to celebrate sumac is that they are easy to identify due to aptly descriptive common/Latin names.

Learn much more about sumacs at the incredible Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center website. You can search the database by species and get propagation notes. You can also use the "Recommended Species List" to determine which species of sumac might be appropriate for planting in your location.

A final note - some species such as Smooth Sumac (Rhus glabra) are considered invasive in some areas. When in doubt about any species that you plan to bring onto your property, ask for help. Here's a great place to start:

Next time you are outdoors keep an eye out for sumac!

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