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

Identification of purple flower near Ft. Worth
April 20, 2011 - I'm doing a Flower Project for my Biology class. My partner and I have found a flower that we cannot identify and neither can our teacher. I found it on Interstate 35 going through Ft. Worth, Texas. ...
view the full question and answer

Yellow-blossomed Shrub that Occurs in Arizona and Texas
May 08, 2012 - What is the name of the large shrubs you will see in Arizona with the bright yellow blossoms. They grow wild everywhere, and I also see them in the town. Could you please tell me the name of them, s...
view the full question and answer

Unusual vine in San Diego County, California
May 12, 2012 - Dear Mr. or Ms. Smarty Pants, I came across an unusual vine winding through a young Zumaque growing off the edge of a mesa in San Diego (coastal sage scrub). The small (fingernail-sized)leaves rough...
view the full question and answer

Identification of Bidens aristosa (Tickseed sunflower) in Texas
November 20, 2015 - I think the ID of the plant I submitted a description of yesterday is Tickseed Sunflower (Bidens aristosa). Thanks.
view the full question and answer

Identity of a yellow-flowered wildflower with prickly burs
May 20, 2013 - Hi there. We have seen a wildflower, probably invasive, that is at least in Travis, Williamson, and Hays counties. We have tried to identify it without success, The structure of the plant is remark...
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