Rent Shop Volunteer Join

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Friday - November 22, 2013

From: Dripping Springs, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Plant Identification, Shrubs
Title: Sumac Leaves Turning Red
Answered by: Mike Tomme

QUESTION:

Hi, Mr. Smarty Plants, I recently planted a flowering sumac bush. Is it normal for that plant to get fall leaf-color? About a week after planting it, the temp reached the mid-30s, and after that, I noticed that the leaves were turning red. They haven't dropped, but I'm wondering if the plant was damaged by the cool weather so soon after planting or if this is normal. Thank you!

ANSWER:

Mr. Smarty Plants isn't exactly sure exactly what species you have, but I'm going to assume it's one native to Texas. Otherwise, I have to tell you that we are a resource for information on native plants and we don't answer questions about non-natives - and I don't want to do that.

The Native Plant Information Network database has 13 entries in the genus Rhus which is where the plants commonly referred to as sumacs are classified. Of these, 10 are native to at least some part of Texas.

Now to get to answering your question. The descriptions of most of the natives contain some reference to their foliage changing color in the fall. Sometime the color change is so dramatic that have been given common names like "flameleaf."

So, my guess is that your sumac is doing what so many sumacs do - change color in the fall. Here's a few examples:

 

From the Image Gallery


Winged sumac
Rhus copallinum

Smooth sumac
Rhus glabra

Prairie flameleaf sumac
Rhus lanceolata

More Shrubs Questions

Low growing erosion control plants for lakeside in Washington Township NJ
May 12, 2013 - I live on a small lake in Northern NJ and have installed beautiful Boulders along the water to help stop erosion. Now I want to add plants along the property but would like low growing, soil retentio...
view the full question and answer

Pruning non-native Chinese fringe flower from Austin
June 24, 2013 - When is the best time of year to prune Plum Delight? And how severely can it be cut back?
view the full question and answer

Possibility of Amyris madrensis or Amyris texana growing in Dallas
September 07, 2007 - I live in the central city of Dallas, in the heart of the urban heat island (zone 8b). I am interested in Amyris madrensis and A. texensis. Will they survive winter here? Would they make a good eve...
view the full question and answer

Fragrant foundation plants for sunny, dry area in Illinois
August 26, 2009 - We need suggestions of what to plant on the south side of our house heave sun and rather dry soil. We just took out old dead bushes. Would prefer something that flowers and smells nice that would gr...
view the full question and answer

Erosion Control for Salem IN
September 02, 2014 - We've recently had a new pond dug. It is on a hill side and has some very steep and tall banks. We were advised that our best chance of keeping soil from eroding was to plant fescue. I'm not thrille...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.