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Kentucky Color: Sumac

Sumac: "soo' mak" is its common pronunciation. An accepted pronunciation is "shoo' mak" which explains why the Great Wooded South pronunciation was and still is in some corners, "shoo' make"!

"Shoemake" had my childhood imagination tripping! Several scenarios surfaced to no avail. I am forever grateful, both for the ability to read and being introduced to the dictionary! Problem solving is easier when one has many tools in one's toolbox.

There are two types of Sumacs in our area. Both Smooth sumac and Staghorn sumac we notice particularly in the fall because of their black red foliage and their brilliant, waxy red seed pods! The most readily identifiable difference is the lack of fuzzy hair on the stems and leaves of Smooth sumac.

As for a third variety, Poison Sumac, I have never seen. Some sources say it can be found in areas of Eastern and Northern Kentucky and some say it isn't in Kentucky at all. However, since it is only found growing in permanently wet soils or water itself, it is of little concern or consequence for we very special folk living in the Great Wooded South!

As an aside, I am forever grateful to the late Ed Waggener for identifying and naming both Grider Hill Pass and Wheeler Hill Pass. Both are important landmarks on the Elizabethtown-Chattanooga Highway!

This story was posted on 2023-11-18 09:27:32
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Kentucky Color: Sumac

2023-11-18 - Adair Co., KY - Photo by Billy Joe Fudge.
Billy Joe says, "This photo was taken in a grove of Smooth sumac growing along the roadside near the top of Wheeler Hill Pass!"

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