Flame Leaf Sumac
It is easy to see where the Flame Leaf Sumac gets its name since its dark, shiny, green leaves turn a brilliant, burgundy red every fall along with orange and purple mixed in with crimson fruit ripens. The plant is a flashy one and is described both as a shrub and an ornamental tree. This appealing deciduous plant sports a variety of names including Prairie Flame Leaf Sumac, Texas Sumac, Tree Sumac, Prairie Shining Sumac, Prairie Sumac, Lance-leaved Sumac, Limestone Sumac, Mountain Sumac and Black Sumac along with its more formal name of Rhus lanceolata.
Flame Leaf Sumac, native to Texas, grows best if it can be left alone in open areas to naturalize and often forms thickets that provide a great cover for birds to nest and small animals use for cover and food. Shrub-like varieties of Flame Leaf Sumac that are pruned during the winter months can form a nice tree and can even be cut to the ground on a regular basis. If kept as a shrub it is more accommodating to plants surrounding it because it will not produce dense shade, allowing them to have more sunlight. Flame Leaf Sumac grows the most between April and May but only the female plants produce berries and flowers. The fruit will ripen around September in dense clusters which can hang on throughout the winter months. Migratory birds, songbirds, quails, and even wild turkeys will feed on the berries over the winter along with raccoons, possums, and rabbits that feast on the bark and twigs of the tree.The Flame Leaf Sumac will dramatically sprout after a fire which is ironic, given its name. The seeds, bark, leaves, and fruit contain a large amount of tannin which is used to tan leather hides.Flame Leaf Sumac grows can grow in many locations with minimal watering. It can be placed on rocky slopes, woodlands, along fence rows, and on hillsides but not in shrub border. It is fast-growing, normally pest and disease-free, and can withstand a drought.