Explore Plants

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
    
 

Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
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

Stem canker or leaf fungus in Morella cerifera
June 14, 2007 - Dear Mr.Smarty Pants: The upper half of our wax myrtle, which we had allowed (with artful pruning) to reach about ten feet suddenly died this spring (it dropped most of its leaves and didn't sprout...
view the full question and answer

Non-native ligustrum in non-native fescue in Medina TX
May 22, 2013 - Is there an effective way to kill baby ligustrums coming up in my fescue yard without harming the grass?
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants on lantana in Dallas
September 14, 2005 - For several years, the lantana plants in my backyard in Dallas grew and bloomed all Summer and Fall until the first real cold snap. I've loved having a native plant that didn't need constant care a...
view the full question and answer

Blocking dust from a road in Sturgis MS
September 20, 2012 - Please let me know what Trees/shrubs will help block dust from dirt road.
view the full question and answer

Native tree or shrub with fruit to espalier on fence
July 23, 2010 - I live in the Austin, TX area and I would like to choose a native tree or shrub to espalier on a fence in my garden. Ideally, I would like to use a tree that bears fruit. Any suggestions?
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.