Common Name: Sumac

Latin Name: Rhus glabra

There are 35 species of the genus Rhus found throughout the world varying diversely in habitat, size and uses.  Sumac species glabra and typhina are shrubs grown in North America and found in fields, wastelands, grasslands and woodlands. Native Americans used the split bark of the sumac, and stems in basket-making and the roots for a yellow dye.  Its dense cluster of red berries are known as drupes. The red berries used in an infusion create a beautiful reddish to black dye for wool and fabrics.  “Sumac-ade”, or “rhus juice” is a drink made by soaking the drupes in cool water, rubbing them to extract the essence, straining the liquid through a cotton cloth, and sweetening it. Medicinally sumac has been used throughout the ages for it potent astringent and antioxidant properties.  A species of sumac toxicodendron is considered poisonous and can be identified by its white drupes (cone shaped fruit) which is quite different from the red drupes of the true Rhus species.

Parts Used: Root bark, berries

Constituents: tannin, malic and calcium acid, volitile oil

Actions: Astringent, tonic, antiseptic, refrigerent (cooling), dieurectic, anti-oxidant

Medicinal Uses: Sumac’s astringent properties are especially indicated for symptoms of diarrhea or hemorrhaging. The berries in an infusion can be used as a mouth wash for ulcerations.  Traditionally Native Americans would make a lemonade-like drink from the berries or use the young shoots as an edible vegetable.  High in Vitamin C sumac is high in anti-oxidant properties.

Used In: Sugar Scrub