So, you thought this post would be about cute little kids selling lemonade by the side of the road? Sorry, but no. We haven’t tried that particular adventure yet. However, please read on, and you’ll understand the title.
As one of Ontario’s more dazzling autumn performers, one of my favourite roadside attractions puts on a brilliant rainbow-hued display every fall.
Today’s Species of the Week is:
Staghorn Sumac (Rhus typhina)
This is another very abundant species here in Southern Ontario. You can see it lining roads, surrounding woodlots, and it is commonly used as a decorative shrub. In my neighbourhood, Staghorn Sumacs are often seen at the backs of yards that border onto busy streets, blocking out traffic.
Staghorn Sumacs can grow up to six meters high. The alternate, compound leaves on this shrub (or small tree) turn varying shades of red, orange and yellow in autumn, putting on a beautiful display (leaflets are oppositely arranged). I wanted to put it in my garden, but apparently it suckers aggressively, and was advised against it by two avid gardeners. I was glad to discover, however, that it is a native species!
The strange, fuzzy berry clumps give this shrub its name. These large clusters of furry-looking, deep red berries stand erect in horn-shaped formations.
As it grows rapidly and thickly in disturbed sites, Staghorn Sumac plays an important role in early environmental rehabilitation. It provides shelter and food for wildlife.
As it turns out, you can actually take the berries, and turn them into Staghorn Sumac Lemonade.
WARNING: BE CAREFUL NOT TO USE THE OTHER KIND OF SUMAC WITH WHITE BERRIES.
IT IS VERY POISONOUS!
Here’s a video of some guy making lemonade from Staghorn Sumac:
This looks like something I’ve got to try.
Posted on September 23, 2013, in Species of the week, Uncategorized and tagged autumn, berries, berry lemonade, bright red, cone shaped berry clusters, edible, foraging, horn, identification, lemonade, ontario, rainbow leaves, red berries, shrub, southern ontario, species, staghorn sumac, sumac, sumac lemonade, urban foraging. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.