Smooth sumac is a common thicket-forming tree here in Oklahoma, usually found on the edge of prairie and disturbed sites such as roadsides. It's native, and pops up in these areas as a primary succession species to make way for the slower growing, more shade tolerant trees of our native forest type. In the fall, these trees really stand out because of the large clusters of bright red berries that form at the meristems. When I first tried out natural dyeing, I thought of these berries and how curious I was to see how they would work. Here we are in late summer, and I finally got my chance!
To start, I picked the berries off of the stems and then boiled them in some water to extract the pigment. I may get a larger jar later and put some berries in it with the dye mixture, but the lace weight skein of yarn I used was a little too large to fit in the jar with both the liquid and more berries, so this is why I left them out. Mordants used: alum and vinegar.
Eventually I'd like to try cochineal, but this looks to be a nice light red dye from a plant native to my area.