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Fields, Forests & Wetlands Foods of Eastern North America

A Complete Wild Food Guide

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Rhus_typhina berries

Staghorn Sumac (Rhus typhina) berries called drupes on the panicle (cluster) . (By: Daniel Fuchs Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic)


Season: Late Summer to Early Fall


Urban, Rural or Both: Both, Rural mainly


Staghorn Sumac (Rhus typhina) and the Smooth Sumac (Rhus glabra). The berry clusters are beautiful to look at, and actually make a nice drink. Like anything you have never had before, make sure you have very little at first to make sure you aren't allergic. It doesn't matter which one - the Staghorn or Smooth Sumac, as they are the same from an eating perspective.

Make sure you know what a Poison Sumac (Toxicodendron vernix) looks like. The leaves are similar looking to the Staghorn Sumac, and especially the Smooth Sumac at first glance - they are compound leaves. To be safe, DO NOT touch a Sumac unless you see the red berry clusters like in the included picture below. The Poison Sumac has white, green or grey colored berries. The Poison Sumac likes very damp or wet land. The Staghorn and Smooth Sumac likes well drained hilly areas, though they are often by water - just not in standing water or soaked land. Don't bother with anything that looks like a Sumac if it is damp or wet in the area until you see the red berry clusters.

Harvesting: In the late summer to early fall the clusters of berries will be bright red and ready to pick. Cut below the cluster with a sharp knife, pruners or sharp, strong scissors and take inside to use.

Using: When the Staghorn and Smooth Sumac berry clusters are ripe, pick two or three clusters off the plant, take home and remove the outer, healthy looking berries into a bowl, pour warm, but not boiling water over them. Rub the berries around with your hands, then let soak for about half an hour. Take the mix and pour into a clean coffee filter over a pot, or through a clean and well rinsed tea towel. Put the pinkish red drink in a fridge to cool, or over ice to have right away. Keeps for a day or two without a problem. This drink cuts thirst better than almost anything else.

If you find the mix you made too sharp, just dilute with cold water.

Recipe search on the web here (Google search) and here (Bing search).


Staghorn Sumac

Staghorn Sumac (Rhus typhina):


Growing this plant in your home garden:

For detailed instructions on growing, go to my Wild Foods Home Garden website Sumac page.


Description:


Staghorn Sumac (Rhus typhina) range. Distribution map courtesy of the USGS Geosciences and Environmental Change Science Center, originally from "Atlas of United States Trees" by Elbert L. Little, Jr. .


1024px-Rhus_typhina

Staghorn Sumac (Rhus typhina) growth early in the season. (By: Eike Wulfmeyer Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic)


1024px-Rhus_typhina_aha

Staghorn Sumac (Rhus typhina) branch after leaves have fallen off. You can see where the leaf was attached. This picture clearly shows why it is called the Staghorn - the fuzzy branch looks like a deer stag's antler - see picture below this one. (By: Aha GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2)


Red_deer_stag_velvet

Red deer stag velvet on antler. (By: Mehmet Karatay CC BY-SA 3.0)


Male_staghorn_sumac

Staghorn Sumac (Rhus typhina) male flower panicle at the early stage. Male flower panicles come out in June/July. These will not turn into the edible berry clusters - those are female. (By: Lubiesque CC BY-SA 3.0)

Staghorn Sumac berry cluster

Staghorn Sumacs with berry clusters ready for harvest. These were found mid August, and are usually good right into late September. If you happen to see the rarer white, green or grey berry clusters, DO NOT touch the berries or plant itself - it could be a Poison Sumac (Toxicodendron vernix).


Smooth Sumac

Smooth Sumac (Rhus glabra):


Growing this plant in your home garden:

For detailed instructions on growing, go to my Wild Foods Home Garden website Sumac page.


Description:


Smooth Sumac (Rhus glabra) range. Distribution map courtesy of the USGS Geosciences and Environmental Change Science Center, originally from "Atlas of United States Trees" by Elbert L. Little, Jr. .


Rhus_glabra_nf

Smooth Sumac (Rhus glabra) early in the season. The new growth has the purplish color. (By: Richtid CC BY-SA 3.0)


Rhus_glabra_2_(5097502673)

Smooth Sumac (Rhus glabra) male flower panicle. Male flower panicles come out in June/July. (By: Superior National Forest Attribution 2.0 Generic)


Rhus_glabra

Smooth Sumac (Rhus glabra) drupe (berry) panicle (cluster). (By: USDA)





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Important Notes when Identifying
Rules & Cautions
Dangerous Plants to Avoid Touching
Disclaimer


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