In praise of Staghorn Sumac

Staghorn sumac is a wonderful plant and there is lots of it in Raymore Park. What’s so wonderful?

For starters, it’s native and seems to be resistant to pests.

Second, it’s attractive with a kind of tropical look to it in the summer and a vivid red colouring in the fall. Its red flowers stay on the plant all winter.

A stand of sumac in summer.

A stand of sumac in the wild area in August.

Sumac in mid-October.

Sumac, brilliant in mid-October.

A sumac flower (March 9, 2013).

A sumac flower – note the velvet on the stem that gives the ‘staghorn’ name (March 9, 2013).

Third, it benefits wildlife by encroaching, in spite of human efforts to control it. Mowers have to give encroaching sumac an ever-wider berth as sumac leans out as it grows, allowing the roots to put out new shoots. Its deep shade starves less worthy plants of sunshine.

This disused baseball diamond is turning into woodland (slowly).

This disused baseball diamond is turning into woodland (slowly).

Fourth, it supports a variety of native wildlife from the insects that feed on its nectar to birds feeding on the flowers that stay throughout the winter. Deer along with other mammals eat the foliage and branches.

Count the robins enjoying a winter meal.

Count the overwintering robins enjoying a meal.

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