Blazing Fall Color – Staghorn Sumac (Rhus typhina)

A glorious shrub native to Eastern North America with incredible fall color and attractive, burgundy seed panicles that are an important food source for birds during winter. A tea that is high in vitamin C, said to taste like cranberry lemonade, can be made from the ripe berries by infusing in cold water overnight, then straining through cheesecloth or coffee filter. I’ve never tried it, but it sounds delicious!

About Eliza Waters

Gardener, writer, photographer, naturalist
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35 Responses to Blazing

  1. What a gorgeous photo! Looks tropical! I’ve been wanting a good Staghorn Sumac photo for weeks now! Looks like you found the perfect spot. Are these near your garden?

  2. mk says:

    I would love a cup sumac lemonade, thanks!

  3. Trini says:

    I love the colors!! 🙂 I talked to my granny on skype yesterday and she said that all of norway is also shining in reds and yellows and gold, and the sun is so low in the sky so it creates that golden amber light! 🙂

  4. Absolutely gorgeous photo, Eliza. Now you’ve got me thinking….there is an ingredient called sumac used in MIddle Eastern cuisine which adds a bright tang to things. I haven’t found it yet but a friend advises that it is a ground up thing (maybe from this plant?) and adds a nice lemony quality. Hmmmm…..

    • Eliza Waters says:

      Since this sumac is native to the US, it is not be the same plant, but another species (Rhus coriaria) you speak of. Our sumac might be an adequate substitute, since both impart a lemony flavor.

  5. dorannrule says:

    I always thought Sumac was poisonous! Yikes. But how could anything so beautiful do me in?

    • Eliza Waters says:

      Poison sumac is no longer classified as Rhus vernix, but given its own genus Toxicodendron vernix. The common name still sticks, however. Poison sumac is rather uncommon, grows only in wetlands & has smooth stems and white berries as opposed to the safe Staghorn which is fuzzy stemmed with red berries.

  6. wspines says:

    I love sumac and used it a lot in dyeing. It could be used as a mordant or by itself. If gave a light brown color. Its harder to find now. The road weed wacker machines cut it down. By itself its a wonderful fall decoration. Thanks Eliza for reminding me about this wonder plant. And I too would love a cup of sumac lemonade.

    • Eliza Waters says:

      Do you use the berries or stems to make dye? I would think it wouldn’t be hard for you to find, there is so much of it around here. How about by the river along Rt.112?

  7. LadyPinkRose says:

    I LOVE the colors, Eliza. I went to an appt this morning and in the drive I saw so many things I would love to photograph. And here I sit trying to catch up on comments and then visiting. Life. Ya gotta laugh! (((HUGS))) Amy

  8. Love when I see your title and just a hint of the picture at first. As soon as I saw this one, I knew I would LOVE it.

  9. dianaed2013 says:

    I am really interested in gardens so will always look out for your lovely blog- thank you. These are great colours

  10. Rebecca says:

    Beautiful, Eliza 🙂

  11. ladyfi says:

    Just gorgeous!

  12. Sartenada says:

    Awesome fall colors.

  13. Robbie says:

    Eliza. I had no idea!!! You can make a tea from those-crazy. I love your blog today! it is ablaze with fall! Love Sumac..but I must confess, I have a designer one called Tiger Eyes

    It is smaller for my urban space, but has a lovely golden color during the summer. I train mine to be a small tree-lol. I thought it looked like a Palm tree—but I love it for it fits in my urban area….if I had your seven acres of “Heaven on Earth”..I would not have to resort to a designer sumac plant-lol

    I sent your seeds yesterday so look for them:-) Got them dried, finally!

    • Eliza Waters says:

      I think I’ve seen a photo of your sumac. It is a lovely, manageable plant, perfect for your garden. I agree it has lovely texture and color. I went for my walk this morning and the sumac are such a gorgeous accent on the landscape, like mini red palm trees. 🙂 So much beauty to behold this time of year (well, really, ALWAYS!)
      Thanks for the seeds, I look forward to receiving them. 🙂

  14. Robbie says:

    + I told all my cyber blogging neighbors about you today….you and my old cyber neighbors:-)
    Told them what an amazing blog you have, always lifts my spirits when I stop by:-)

  15. Sharon K. says:

    I see these and never knew what they were. I love them.

    Thank you!

  16. bernadetteyoungquist says:

    What a stunning photo!

  17. Lovely to catch up with a few of your posts from years ago – just love your photos. 🙂

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