Scientific name: Rhus typhina
Other Common Names: Sumach, Shoemake, Vinegar tree
Bouquet Potential: N/A
Propagation: Staghorn sumac is a vigorous spreader via rhizomes and will form large colonies. It can be propagated from root cuttings. It can also be propagated by seed in the fall. Seed held over till spring needs a period of storage at 32 degrees or lower.
History: The Greek word for sumac is rhous, from which the Genus name is derived. The leaves are rich in tannin and have been used for centuries for making fine leather. The first record of its use for tanning was in England in 1565. The wood itself is too brittle to be of much use for building or other wood based projects. Interestingly, though, the dried wood is fluorescent under long-wave UV light. Native to the Middle East and North America, it was and is used extensively in cooking and for medicinal uses.
Light Requirements: Bright sun
Soil and Water Preferences: Will grow in fairly dry conditions and in poor, acid, rocky soils
Hardiness: Grows best in Zones 4-8. It is the only native shrub/tree to grow in all 48 contiguous states and southern Canada
Uses: Many species of birds enjoy the seeds. The seeds can be ground for use as a spice similar to paprika. The seeds have a tangy, lemony, slightly salty flavor. Ground sumac berries are used as a spice in many Middle Eastern dishes. It is sprinkled over rice in Turkey and Iran, and also used as a dry seasoning on salads. For meats and vegetables, it is used as a rub for enhancing flavor, especially when these foods are grilled. Especially good on chicken. In North America, the seeds have been used to make “Indian Lemonade”.
Indian "Lemonade": For a slightly tart beverage, cover berries with cold water and let sit overnight. Strain through cheesecloth or coffee filter, sweeten the remaining liquid to taste and chill.
Sumac berries, bark, leaves, and roots have been used by Native American tribes for many traditional medicine uses. An infusion of the bark and roots can be used for the treatment of colds, sore throats, and fevers. An infusion of the leaves may be used to treat diarrhea. The powdered bark can be made in to an antiseptic salve to treat skin maladies.
When the stems are broken or cut, the plant produces a milky, latex-like substance which contains a high concentration of tannic and gallic acid. This substance is used in tanning leather.
An oil extracted from the berries can be used in candle making. Also, brown, red, and black dyes can be extracted from the berries. Seed heads are also used in ornamental arrangements and crafts.
How Sold: By the seed head or bob. Each seed head contains hundreds of seeds.