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Sumac Color Rocks!

A cache by Iowa Tom Send Message to Owner Message this owner
Hidden : 12/27/2006
1 out of 5
1.5 out of 5

Size: Size: micro (micro)

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Geocache Description:

This cache replaces my Sumac cache which was mulched along with the shrub it was hanging on.

If you haven’t found them yet, when you go for this one you should do Keys to the Kingdom and It’s Elemental My Dear Watson! at the same time.

The leaves of the sumac that surround this cache turn a bright red in the fall. Contrary to what I was told when growing up, the bright red of sumac or any autumn leaf is NOT masked by green chlorophyll during the spring and summer months. The masking theory is easily debunked. One only needs to look for what should be a great change in the color of the leaf when backlit. If red is sandwiched between the green it’ll definitely change the color of the transmitted light, even if it not visible when the light is simply reflected from the leaf. However, there is no difference in color, therefore the red is NOT present when the leaf is green!

Look at the picture on the left here and imagine that red being somehow "masked" by a thin layer of green. Especially in transmitted light! No way Hosay!

According to THE CHEMISTRY OF AUTUMN COLORS, in the autumn, once the leaf is cut off from the rest of the tree, "the production of chlorophyll in the leaf declines, and the green color of the leaf fades. If the leaf contains carotene, as do the leaves of birch and hickory, it will change from green to bright yellow as the chlorophyll disappears. [Editor’s note: the yellow is there all year long. All leaves contain at least some carotene. It contributes to the overall color of the leaf, making it more of a yellowish green than what it would be if chlorophyll were the only pigment. As a former photographer in industry I used to have to recognize the amount of various colors that were present in color photographs I printed. I can easily detect the yellow in the green (or should I say greenish) leaves I see in the summer months.] In some trees, as the concentration of sugar in the leaf increases, the sugar reacts to form anthocyanins. These pigments cause the yellowing leaves to turn red. Red maples, red oaks, and sumac produce anthocyanins in abundance and display the brightest reds and purples in the autumn landscape. "I just read (9/22/09) an article that delves into a new theory about why American fall colors are more colorful than those in England. Here is another article (read on 9/30/09) that explains the colors well.

Check out the USDA-Forest Service Regional Fall Foliage Sites for updated info about fall color in the eastern part of the US.

A little farther south of this cache are clumps of fuzzy berries on some other sumacs. Try nibbling on the red berries when they are ripe. They taste a lot like lemonade and are loaded with vitamin C. I tasted them when I set out this cache. They were pretty good.

Thanks to ricann for providing the container for this cache!! It was a gift.

Additional Hints (Decrypt)

Vg'f nyy va gur anzr.

Decryption Key


(letter above equals below, and vice versa)



  • Sumac and GoldenrodThe sumac started to change color very early in 2009. We had a cool summer, especially July. The fuzzy berries taste good when nibbled on. They contain vitamin-C and probably citric acid.
  • Sumac berries are tastyOnes like this are located a few tens of feet south along the trail from the cache location.

70 Logged Visits

Found it 58     Didn't find it 6     Write note 4     Publish Listing 1     Owner Maintenance 1     

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