(Rhus typhina aka R. hirta); Minimum 10 drupes harvested November 2023
Part of our Bountiful Harvest - Fall Forage Crops Collection that is a work in progress.
Recognizable by its upright seed cones of red fuzzy drupes, staghorn sumac is named for its velvety branches that are akin to the antlers of a stag as first suggested in the eighteenth century by Carl Linnaeus and Eric Torner, who, described the shrub: “Ramis hirtis uti typhi cervini” which translates to “the branches are rough like antlers in velvet."
Traditionally staghorn sumac drupes are enjoyed as a refreshingly zesty natural lemonade and a browser search pulls up quite a few recipes for this summer-time treat. Baskets are made from fresh stems and tannin-rich leaves and bark are tannin-rich have been used for tanning leather.
"All in all, the most important health benefits of sumac are that it is a powerful antioxidant, it fights fungal infections, it fights germs, it is good for treating diabetes, it is a diuretic, it fights cancer, and it is beneficial for women’s health. Sumac tea is a source of vitamin D, is a good cure for colds and flu; and is also considered to be a mixture for asthma, shortness of breath, diarrhea, cough, sore throat, and infections. The results of this review demonstrate that sumac can be a safe and effective natural and sustainable medicine for treatment and prevention of many diseases in a sustainable life."**
In addition to its traditional uses, staghorn sumac is a wonderful homestead shrub, as a nectar source for pollinators and a winter wildlife food source through its drupes that persist through the winter.
Culinary Note: this is not the same species as the popular Za’atar spice (Rhus coriaria)
Important Note: We are not professional herbalists and are not recommending the use of staghorn sumac for medicinal or food purposes; the information here is added for interest. Please do your own research on the uses, benefits, and risks before including staghorn sumac (and any wild foraged crop) in your herbal regime.