Welcome to Word of the Week! Stay tuned for a new word each Friday to amp up your nature vocabulary!
Word of the week is Drupe [droop] (botany noun): A fleshy fruit with thin skin and a central stone containing the seed, such a plum, cherry, almond or olive.
One of the easiest shrubs to identify throughout the year is Staghorn Sumac. With its, velvety branches, this shrub produces individual fruits, or drupes, which are bright red and fuzzy. These individual drupes will grow together in a conical cluster, and these conical cluster of drupes are also known as “bobs.”
Since the drupes of Staghorn Sumac remain throughout the cold season, it is an important source of winter food for birds. It is not uncommon to see American Robins, Northern Cardinals, Blue Jays, or Downy Woodpeckers up in the branches, enjoying the fuzzy, red fruits.
Birds are not the only animals that can enjoy eating Staghorn Sumac. The drupes are edible to us humans too! They have a sweet zingy lemon taste and can be soaked in hot, or cold water to make a refreshing sumac tea.
Keep an eye out for Staghorn Sumac on your next visit to High Park and if you’re interested in learning more about the relationship between this shrub and birds, we have a couple of bird related special events coming up soon!