Staghorn/Smooth Sumac

Trust me. You’ve seen this plant. It’s all over- empty lots, forests, bulldozed ground. It’s all over. It’s quite easy to identify. Just look for large groups of red berry-type things, either fuzzy (staghorn sumac) or not (smooth sumac).

Uses: It, believe it or not, makes an excellent lemonade! With smooth sumac, just rinse it off briefly, then leave it in a bowl of water overnight, and sweeten. It’s so refreshing in summer.

Staghorn sumac, though more common, is a bit trickier. It’s fuzzy and dense, so you need to break it apart to remove insects and dirt that may be on the inside. If it doesn’t bother you, and you don’t want to do the work, you can just drop it in the bowl and filter everything out after it’s done soaking.

Here’s a recipe for sumac meringue.

Precautions: DO NOT, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCE, MISTAKE THIS FOR POISON SUMAC. Poison sumac has white berries. They’re very easy to distinguish. Also, I’ve read that some people may be allergic to it, so only have it in small quantities if you’re trying it for the first time.

forage foraging smooth sumac staghorn sumac farm nature