Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Smooth Sumac in Kentucky

...but first a quick update! A lot of you have written me to ask where I've been because I haven't posted since August! I'm here and well, but I was knee deep in a house remodel. We've redone our first floor...all the wood floors were stripped, sanded, stained, etc., walls were knocked down, a staircase pulled out and a new one put in, and finally painting. During it all my library/home office has been packed up, and my computer hauled to work. There was so much to do that poor little Red suffered. Yesterday we were able to put part of my office together, so I thought I'd try to write a quick post. (My cousin, Curg, wrote me earlier today that he is sick of seeing the hummingbird in the previous post. He needs new nature material, and he needs it now, so this one is for you, Curg!)

Autumn color for us, and winter food for the birds...
Last week Matty was on a short fall break, so we headed down to Blue Licks State Park in Kentucky with my parents. The trees were gorgeous, the weather was perfect, and it was incredibly relaxing to be out in the woods. I didn't bring my camera with me because everything was packed up, and I just wanted to spend time with my family, but I was able to get a few nice shots with my cell phone. Nothing beats the reds of autumn...

Smooth Sumac (Rhus glabra) berries glow red in the field. 
A colony of Smooth Sumac was growing in an open field along the Savannah trail, and the bright red leaves and the deep red berries (drupes) were eye catching, so we stopped to take a closer look. I posted on Staghorn Sumac last November, which looks very similar to Smooth Sumac. A clue to telling them apart is in their name. The branches on Smooth Sumac are smooth, while the branches on Staghorn Sumac are furry like the antlers on a stag when "in velvet." Smooth Sumac is a little smaller as well, and its range extends further south. In Ohio, we have both. I love seeing any type of sumac in the wild, because I know winter birds will have emergency food waiting for them this winter. (Click here for the post "Staghorn Sumac is for the birds..." to learn how these plants help birds survive the coldest days of winter and early spring when other food is scarce.)

Both Smooth and Staghorn Sumac are native to Ohio, and both offer stores of food for the birds in the dead of winter when the "tastier" berries have all been consumed.

Smooth Sumac brightens any field, especially in fall when its leaves turn a brilliant red.

Note: 
Smooth Sumac, like Staghorn Sumac is not Poison Sumac. It is a wetland species and has white berries and smooth leaves. Click here and here for more info on Poison Sumac.

13 comments:

L Livingston Studio said...

Oh for the love of all Holy. 3rd try. This dang-blamat interweb thing. Its about time! 2 months? You were in danger of being off the Christmas Card list. All my love, cousin Curg.

Roy said...

Welcome back, however briefly! And I didn't know that about the Sumacs; I'll have to take a closer look next time I'm among them. Thanks!

natureismytherapy.com said...

There are two sumac trees right outside the windows at my new apartment, and I photographed an Orange-crowned Warbler in them today, as well as a bunch of chickadees and robins. Can't wait to see who shows up when we get into winter! ~Kim

Mary Ann Gieszelmann said...

Glad to see a post, Kelly! But I understand about life getting in the way.

Elaine said...

With all the remodeling work you really needed that trip to Kentucky! Glad to see you're finally getting things back together again, and I know you're going to enjoy all the new--the trick is not to just sit and admire it. Even with your cell phone you managed to get some lovely photos of the sumac!

Kelly said...

--@Curg ....haha....you're such a technology powerhouse!

--@Roy...Thanks, Roy! I love the sumacs...such color. I have a small colony in my side yard. Right now they are glowing!

--@Kim...Wow, Kim! ...an Orange-crowned Warbler is fantastic. I've never seen one in my yard. This winter will be interesting at your place!

--@Mary Ann...Thanks! I knew the remodel would be involved, but I didn't know it would be that involved (Really I did, but I didn't want to believe it!). Another week, and we're golden....then back to the woods and to blogging.

--@Elaine...thank you! Yes...Kentucky was wonderful. I'm trying to get up to Lake Erie next month. That will be great too. I have a few more cell-phone posts in the pipe. It did a fine job, but I missed my Nikon!! The Nikon is coming with me to Lake Erie. :-)

sandy said...

glad to see a new post - i stop by often. House remodeling is extremely time consuming - I've been there a few times...

i always love your images. Love that sumac photo - wow.

Tammie Lee said...

lovely to see your red and berries. yea winter bird food!

i bet your house will be wonderful when it is completed!

Bobby Harrison said...

Glad to see you back Kelly! I understand, i am in the process of remodeling myself.

Amanda K. Jaros said...

Just discovered your site, and it is lovely. Sounds like you are not posting very often, but I just thought I'd say hi!

Kelly said...

--@Sandy…Thank you! We just finished the painting. Woohoo! Getting close to the finish line!

--@Tammie Lee…Thanks, Tammie! The house is really coming together. Fresh and totally unique. I'm loving it. Two more weeks and we will be finished…I hope!

--@Bobby…Thanks! I hope your remodeling is going well. It is so fun to watch the transformation.

--@Amanda…Hi Amanda! Thanks for stopping by! I'll start posting regularly soon. I hope to pick back up with some bird art soon….and I can't wait to get my camera back out!!

:-)

Roy Norris said...

Such a rich colour on those berries Kelly. The look as if they could be used in a Dye.

Kelly said...

…thanks, Roy! You're right. The berries have been (and still are) used to make red dye.