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Monday, August 18, 2014

Staghorn Sumac

There was a fair amount of interest in the sumac, so I decided to talk about the other kind in my kingdom, Staghorn Sumac, Rhus typhina.

These are weedy little trees, but they are sometimes grown as ornamentals for the bright red fall color and the clusters of red fruit.

They like to grow as transition trees at edges. That's just what they do here, working their way out from the mature trees in the cemetery into the field.

staghorn sumac

These were familiar trees of my childhood. The wood is soft and my dad considered them junk trees, so he didn't care how many I cut to build forts, make arrows, etc. There were always more the next year!

It gets its common name from the fuzzy appearance of the young shoots. They look like the branched antlers of a deer in velvet.

staghorn sumac

The leaves are compound, with up to 15 leaflets on each side. Of course they turn wonderful colors in the fall. Primarily red, but see the link below for a stunning clump that looked tropical.

staghorn sumac

And the fruits (there are male and female trees), are an upright cluster of red drupes (little fruits with a single seed in each). They are easy to spot, even from a distance. If you can catch them when they are very new you can make a lemonade from them. Apparently the ground-up clusters are valued as a spice in some parts of the world.

staghorn sumac

I've got some soaking to see if I get a decent beverage on this try. Usually it just isn't worth it.

See Tropical?
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Small Kucing said...

Interesting plant. have not seen it before. So, did you managed to make Lemonade?

Ann said...

This is very interesting, especially that you can make lemonade from the fruits.

Secondary Roads said...

This is the variety (species?) that I'm most familiar with. My dad considered it junk too, but I've always enjoyed the fall color.

Please tell us how your "lemonade" experiment came out. Thanks.

vanilla said...

Just curious: Do you pronounce it sue-mak or shoe-mak?

Sharkbytes said...

Everyone- the fruits are soaking, but I don't think the result tastes like anything except dirty water.

vanilla- I grew up saying shoe-mak. But my bot friends say it's sue-mahk.

vanilla said...

I feel somewhat vindicated, if not endorsed by the literati. I pronounce it shoo-mak, though the dictionary seems to relegate that to second place. :-)

Sharkbytes said...

vanilla- one bot person said that it may have gotten that name from being used in the making of shoes by NA people, but I find no info about that on line. She isn't one to make jokes, so I don't know where her info came from.

Secondary Roads said...

I grew up hearing "shoe make."

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