Saturday, September 26, 2009
Fall Color Source
Here in the great Northeast we consider ourselves special because our trees display great Fall color. News broadcasts originating from New York City report the development of leaf color. Bus and train excursions move people to see these great color displays. Motels raise their rates during leaf peeping season. It is a little humbling to learn that the source of much of the red color is the trash tree sumac. Sumac growth is rapid and coarse. Annual growth rings are so wide that the trees have little strength. No self respecting country boy would build so much as a campfire with sumac. But it is sumac that supplies much of the red for our Fall display. The tree may be trash but there is no denying the brilliance of its red Fall leaves.
Sumac berries supply a food source for overwintering birds. Spring robins are seen picking at the remains of berry clusters. Tea can be made from these red seed heads but it will never replace Orange Crush. Plant nurseries sell a weeping version of sumac. Not bad for a tree that country boys consider to be trash.