Thursday, September 18, 2008

100 Species Challenge -- Species #18

Specimen #18 Staghorn Sumac

AKA Rhus hirta and Rhus typhina

Photos taken at Fairmeadows Park. Fairmeadows Park is the former home of two of my geocaches, Little Bunny and Foo Foo. A lot of storm damaged tree limbs have been placed at the entrance to the trail to reach both my caches. Additionally, dead, falling trees and high water (backed up drains) compound the challenge of reaching my caches. "G" of GAIN and I tried to retrieve Little Bunny, and we conclude that it ended up in the Raccoon River.

Staghorn Sumac can be a bushy tree and a small bush. It makes a dense border that my kids like to play in.

The name staghorn refers to the "velvet" of the branches. I'll have to get a photo of that. The berry cones are very noticeable this time of year. They serve as emergency food for birds in winter. Some people make wine with the berries, some people make "lemonade," others make tea. The roots can be used as an intense yellow dye. This place has interesting information.

I have also read that sumac leaves and berries were mixed with tobacco for smoking. Although we don't smoke, we plan to use the berry cones as smoker material for the beehive. "A's" beekeeping mentor suggested sumac cones as they are free and easy to find. We'll try them out this weekend.

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