En Español

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 Plant Identification Questions

Identity of vine growing in Kentucky.
August 11, 2013 - I have a vine I can't identify. The leaf is heart shaped and the vine is fuzzy. The blooms is just now starting to bloom. They are small red and some white in it. The bloom sort of remind you of a c...
view the full question and answer

Plant Identification in Tennessee
September 02, 2008 - I live in upper East Tennessee and all my life I have seen a flowering bush we call a Bubbie (or Bubby). It grows to an average approximate height of 6 feet and blooms in the early summer. The blooms ...
view the full question and answer

Plant ID from Bloomsdale MO
August 19, 2010 - I have found a plant growing on the side of the road in a weedy area, looks like a poker flower, the plant has Red/orange seed pods growing to a point. no flowers right now. grows on a stem very much...
view the full question and answer

Identification of plant with seed heads like goat head
February 17, 2013 - Sir, I collected some bizarre seed heads from some rough weeds around a stock tank in SE New Mexico. They resemble goat heads, with two long curving horns. I have photos but couldn't figure out how ...
view the full question and answer

Plant identification of ethereal plant in Colorado
August 28, 2010 - We live in the south central mountains of Colorado in the upper Arkansas River valley near Salida, Colorado. During the past few weeks we have noticed a very mystic looking plant (flower/grass?) alon...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center