Hello fellow plant lovers. This week I am happy to introduce you to my friend, Sumac *Rhus glabra*, also known as Staghorn Sumac, Hairy Sumac, and Velvet Sumac. Rhus glabra is native to North America and can be found throughout Canada but there are different types of Sumac around the world.
Sumac is a shrub with alternate compound leaves that can grow into a small tree. In the spring tiny green flowers are produced which are then followed by striking crimson red berries in the fall. The bloom time for Sumac is from June - August. In Autumn, the leaves also turn scarlet red. Sumac prefers to grow in woodsy areas but can be found everywhere - it even grows in wasteland soil!
Whenever I see sumac on the side of the highway, on hiking trails, or even along lake Ontario’s waters edge, it makes me so happy because personally, I think that Sumac has an air of tropicalness to it. With its captivating red colours and really cool leaf shape and disposition, this plant is very special. Furthermore, an infusion of Sumac berries actually tastes like lemonade. My sister and I make “Sumac lemonade” together when we are foraging.
Sumac received its name from the Greek word “rhous” meaning “bushy Sumac” & “glabra” meaning “smooth” in reference to its smooth leaves and stems. Traditionally Sumac was used as food, as the berries are potent medicine containing beneficial minerals including calcium. In Ayurvedic medicine Sumac has been known to be used for its cooling effect on the body.
Sumac infusions taste delicious and can offer a wide array of healing powers such as:
Tonifying the bowels by gently cleansing and working as an astringent throughout the gastrointestinal tract
Helps Regulates blood sugar
Increases immune function making it a great remedy when fighting off a cold or sore throat
Externally can help treat burns and skin irritations when applied topically
It can increase the flow of breast milk
Can be made into a cough syrup as it is sweet and has high vitamin C content
Energetically Sumac is helpful for those who are having a difficult time connecting to the heart and may feel lonely or withdrawn from those around them. It symbolizes Rebirth. It allows us to connect during times that we may feel as if life is passing us by without our control. Overall Sumac draws us within and supports a deep heart connection. This is a useful remedy to take to find strength during difficult times.
Making a Sumac infusion is a simple & delicious way to incorporate Sumac medicine and harness its power. The infusion can be helpful when sick with a cold, asthma, or diarrhea.
Sumac Lemonade Infusion Ingredients:
Find out if the fruit (the fuzzy red clusters) is ripe. If it is sour but pleasant, the fruit is ripe. Place 1-3 heads of fruit clusters and place in jar or bowl. Pour water over fruit and steep for ~1-2 hours (longer if you want it to be more potent). Strain & Enjoy! You may want to add cane sugar or honey to lighten up the flavour.
Thank you for following along this week’s herb walk. I hope you enjoyed getting to know the vivacious Sumac. There is so much to learn about this medicine that I am unable to share it all in one post - I hope you feel inspired to learn more about what is calling to you within what I’ve shared! We are all lifelong students, and to discover and share some of Mother Earths wisdom each week is a true gift. This post is not meant to diagnose or prescribe, but is meant to be a fun reminder that there is medicine all around us.
Sending Love and Light
Lisa Marie Holmes