I’ve been watching the progression of these sumac berries each time we visit Roundrock. I grew up calling it winged sumac, and that seems to match the plant with that name I find in my online researching. (Note the “wings” growing on the stem between the leaflets.) This sumac has come up on its own in a space beside the road where several downed trees had been piled. The trees were knocked down to make the road, so more sunlight has reached the forest floor here. Perhaps the protection of the fallen trees allowed the plant to come to maturity without being browsed to oblivion by the deer.
Or I could be mistaken. I don’t know how long it takes this variety of sumac to reach reproductive maturity (producing berries), and the road is only three or four years old. (I really ought to nail that down, oughtn’t I?) So it may be that this plant is far older than I imagine and I simply never noticed it until this year. (And just to fortify that idea, let me note that I found yet another mature walnut tree on my last trip to Roundrock. It is growing happily on the drier, south-facing slope where I wouldn’t have expected to find one. So I will probably stop making assertions that things don’t exist until I see them. Isn’t that a kind of solipsism?)
Winged sumac will grow in areas that favor Blackjack Oaks, Eastern Red Cedars, and Post Oaks, and we all know that I have plenty of these. This sumac clones by underground runners, and I’ve read that the root of these will often make a right angle turn just below ground level, which has lead them to be used by carvers for canes. I may have to investigate them some day.
Maybe on my next trip to the woods, I can get an even better photo of the berries if they’ve grown bright red, as they are apt to do.
- Elderberries begin ripening.