Friday, October 05, 2012


Sumac by linfrye
Sumac, a photo by linfrye on Flickr.

10 1/4" x 14" Watercolor
Arches 140#CP

Though yellows predominate the fall landscape thusfar, here and there I am seeing wonderful spots of red - and our native winged sumac is one of these.

Winged sumac, Rhus copallinum, is one of those small trees or shrubs (growing no more than 20 feet) found along our roadsides. It's easy to recognize because of the distinctive 'leaf bits' or wings on the stem between each leaflet. (I did not paint this feature into my sketch -- as I was focused entirely on color and a bit of abstraction.) Usually, the leaves are a wonderful glossy green, but in the fall, those divided leaves are fabulously changed to a bright orange-red ... and really 'spark' up our landscape.

The fruits (called drupes) are red to russet to cinnamon colored when ripe. The tiny hairs on each round fruit contain malic acid which makes a tart lemonade tasting drink. Many of the wildfood gatherers sell 'sumac-ade' ... made from the fruits of this plant. Native Americans used the roots of winged sumac to treat dysentery and made a dye from the berries. The berries are consumed by many varieties of birds.

For all the wonders of this plant, my favorite is the fall color. And especially now, while I"m impatiently waiting for the oranges and red to finally paint our trees, I am enjoying the winged sumac even more.

Have a great weekend!


Lorraine said...

Oh I am blown away by your gorgeous painting of the Sumac. The colors and the way you have interwoven them -- incredible -- and those splashes and drips. Each time I look at your blog I think I can't be any more amazed at your talent and each time you surpass yourself.

As a "fall leave lover myself" I know what you're saying about waiting anxiously for the color to come. We still have just an occasional yellow tree here too. Still too warm at night with no freezes yet. But I hear that's a myth anyway. Is it?

Thanks for all the fascinating information about the leaves and berries.

This should definitely be on your 2013 calendar!!
Hugs and mucho appreciation,

Joan T said...

You do such great negative painting in your pieces. Beautiful job on the colors! Enjoy!!

We are having a summer day today and I am heading to the beach!

Laura Moore said...

This is just so gorgeous. I found you on Flickr and now I'm glad I've found your blog too. I know I'm going to enjoy reading through it.

Tiff said...

Really splendid. I like the 'loose' color.