Friday, October 5, 2012

Sumac - Lin Frye

Sumac by linfrye
Sumac, a photo by linfrye on Flickr.

10 1/4" x 14" Watercolor
Arches 140#CP

Though yellows predominate the fall landscape thusfar, here and there I am seeing wonderful spots of red - and our native winged sumac is one of these.

Winged sumac, Rhus copallinum, is one of those small trees or shrubs (growing no more than 20 feet) found along our roadsides. It's easy to recognize because of the distinctive 'leaf bits' or wings on the stem between each leaflet. (I did not paint this feature into my sketch -- as I was focused entirely on color and a bit of abstraction.) Usually, the leaves are a wonderful glossy green, but in the fall, those divided leaves are fabulously changed to a bright orange-red ... and really 'spark' up our landscape.

The fruits (called drupes) are red to russet to cinnamon colored when ripe. The tiny hairs on each round fruit contain malic acid which makes a tart lemonade tasting drink. Many of the wildfood gatherers sell 'sumac-ade' ... made from the fruits of this plant. Native Americans used the roots of winged sumac to treat dysentery and made a dye from the berries. The berries are consumed by many varieties of birds.

For all the wonders of this plant, my favorite is the fall color. And especially now, while I"m impatiently waiting for the oranges and red to finally paint our trees, I am enjoying the winged sumac even more.

Have a great weekend!

Lin Frye
North Carolina


  1. Your work never fails to make me go "ahhh." I love the red sumac, too. It's really beginning to stand out here in VA too. Fascinating information. Thanks for that. Do you get those lovely "runs" by blowing through a straw at wet paint? You always place them perfectly.

  2. Thank you so much --- truly!!! Yes, I blow the paint typically without a straw, but I have used it on occasion.

  3. Brilliant! You're whetting my excitement for my upcoming NC trip.

  4. Your vibrant painting reminds me how much I miss sumac. Such beautiful fall colors.

  5. Really beautiful tecnique, colours and textures.

  6. I love this, Lin, it really captures this magical time of year. Sumac is SO pretty here...


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