Small Sumac Trees in Macon Georgia

Viceroy Butterfly on Sumac (Woody Pond) photographed by Jeff Zablow at Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge, GA

Can’t forget this moment, not for a long time. The Georgia Native Plant Society (GNPS) had posted on Facebook, of the virtues of Sumac bushes/small trees. It caught my eye, for my city kid roots (Brooklyn, New York) always tagged sumacs as B-A-D. Poison sumac was found in Brooklyn and the other five boroughs of New York City. It was to be avoided. The GNPS’s Facebook post told of the virtues of Georgia’s native sumacs. Attractive in the garden, hardy and supplies valuable food to birds and more.

This Viceroy flew in while we were working Woody Pond at Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge, on the Georgia coastline. Lauren had recommended Harris Neck, and there we went. The Viceroy flew to the sumac that grew on that 4-foot wide strip that separated the Woody Pond trail from the pond’s edge (think alligators!). This Viceroy was fresh and Gorgeous, and began nectaring immediately on the few Sumac flowers that had opened.

So, suddenly Sumacs were good, very good. They attracted beautiful butterflies! That was an epiphany, for me. GNPS touted Sumacs, and there I was excited about a Sumac in a fab Refuge, as it attracted a totally OMG! Viceroy.

Our 8 months ongoing Macon, Georgia back garden now has dozens of trees, bushes and perennials that we’ve added to it, 97.5% of them natives. With Spring ’20, what did we discover? Winged Sumac and Smooth Sumac plants appeared, and began to grow. We didn’t plant them. I chose the several that would be terrific placements, and look strong and robust, and I staked them (so Petra & Cuiffi) don’t trample them. Lots of you know how anxious I am to see these Sumacs surge forward in the Spring ahead of us.

Sumacs and Jeff, we’ve gone along way.

Jeff