I pride myself on knowing most of the flowers, trees, and shrubs of the Ozarks. So I was caught aback when this plant caught my eye while I was on a walk:


At first I thought it was poison ivy, but the red berries threw me off. I wondered if there was a variety of poison ivy that had red berries, or perhaps that it was poison oak, but a little research disproved both those theories.

After searching and searching both in my reference books and online, I finally spotted it — it’s fragrant sumac! No wonder I mistook it; it’s in the same genus (Rhus) as poison ivy and oak. Turns out that fragrant sumac is used as a native ornamental as well, although these plants were growing wild. I don’t know why I never noticed it before. My guess is that I have seen it many times, but only registered the three-leaf clusters, thought “poison ivy — stay away!” and never looked any closer.

So something new learned. Always a wonderful moment, and I never tire of the joy of learning new things.

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