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

You Almost Never Meet Your Favorite Movie Star Butterfly at a Chic Cafe

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

This is how it happens. You never ever will meet your favorite heart throb movie star at a chic cafe for coffee and babka. You also almost NEVER meet a butterfly you so want to photograph in exactly the place, time and weather that you’d like to.

I’ve been startled, startled over these years when, without warning or anticipation, I’ve met butterflies that were GORGEOUS and chose to set down in a landing site that was perfect for me. Off of the top, some opps I’ve missed, me caught off guard and not expecting deliverance, included unexpected meeting with Mourning Cloaks, Common Mestras, Compton Tortoiseshells, Goatwood Leafwings and Orange-barred Sulphurs.

We were working the trail that’s 4 feet from Woody pond in Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge, along the Georgia coastline. We were near native Sumac. The day before, the Georgia Native Plant Society had shared a Facebook post, of the wonderfulness of native Sumac. That blew up all the negatives I’d heard, back in New York City, of the Sumac that always invaded empty city lots and those tiny city back yards and gardens. Alien Sumac it was, and Sumac became a dirty word, for me.

Suddenly, this big Viceroy flies in, and begins slowly nectaring on the native Sumac. Well I have a fondness for Viceroys and I’d been given a Re-Education about Sumacs the day before! Mamma Mia!! Viceroy supper fresh, big and richly hued . . . and Sumac in an eye-pleasing setting!

The Viceroy was well within the Sumac branches, meaning that my images would, should show part Viceroy in sun and part Viceroy in Sumac-shade. I shot away!

Here’s the image of a beautiful Viceroy, don’t know if male or female, on a healthy, native Sumac in early bloom. You’ll be as lucky as anything if you ever meet your favorite, smile pleasing star for coffee in the perfect sidewalk cafe, on the perfect day, you unhitched and carefree. No?

Jeff