Winter Botany Study, Part 1: Smooth Sumac

I never lack for nature journaling ideas during winter; there’s so much to investigate and discover when walking along trails lined with intricately detailed dried grasses, forbs and dormant shrubs and trees. This botanical study began with outside exploration, and a bit of impatience; impatience for spring and the first blush of green.

To “push” spring, I collected a few 8 inch stems from a population of smooth sumac growing in abundance along the Indian School Trails, just east of Albuquerque. At home, I popped the stems in a jar of water and waited. Would the buds swell? Would leaves emerge? How long would I have to wait?

Part 1 of my study was almost over. While waiting for signs of life in either stem, I went about the fun task of confirming the species and creating this page of fun facts.

For updates, see Winter Botany Study, Part 2


  1. peacefulbird says:

    OH yes!!! Push spring! I love this plan and also knowing (thanks to you) that Sumac is the only shrub native to all 48 contig. states! I remember it well from growing up in MN, but am not sure if we have it here on the island (NW WA state) Your post will give me a new walking objective, checking out the thickets of tall brush that grow along the shoreline where I often walk! Awaiting next Parts with great anticipation!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Awesome, Robin! I’d be very interested if you find smooth sumac in your world. It can be quite aggressive, but has such pretty bark and gorgeous compound leaves that change into oranges and reds in the fall! Thanks for the comment and for following!


  2. sgoodman56 says:

    Another interesting post. Love the bark color. I had to look it up to see what the plant looked like with leaves-it’s beautiful! Keep me posted if yours grows leaves…will they root?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much Susan! Yes, leaves!


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