When I hear someone talking about sumac I, and I think many people, think of the poisonous variety that can be very irritating for our skin. It surprised me to learn that there were many other species of this plant, including sumac with edible components! It was the video above capturing a segment of one of the Nature Walks with Mark Fraser that enlightened me about the staghorn sumac; a species that I recognize growing in several places locally!
Learn about “The Amazing Sumac” from Mark Fraser in the video–learn how to identify it, how animals utilize it, and how to make a sumac tea–and take a look some more details about it from Fraser below:
Worldwide there are as many as 250 species of Sumac! Although most people associate Sumac with a skin rash from the poison variety, most of the different Sumac varieties are not dangerous at all and in fact, are extremely beneficial. In Eastern North America the Staghorn Sumac is a plant that provides a bounty of food for both wildlife and humans alike in the form of a delicious and vitamin rich drink creating a fantastic wild edible.
In a survival situation knowing the correct edible species is critical and only when we practice when there is not a crisis, do we gain important know-how and wisdom when consuming from Mother Nature’s kitchen. During my life admiring wildlife I have also spent my years learning about different species of wild plants for food and also medicinal purposes. It’s amazing just how much is out there even in the northern latitudes where I call home. The Staghorn’s nutrient rich fibrous berries are found even late in winter which means if you can find them, you have access to a quick and readily available source of nutrition.
The fact that in winter, wildlife can find insects hidden in the furry berry clusters means the Staghorn is a vital resource critical to insectivorous species like the Eastern Blue Jay. (Borderless North)
Learn more from Mark Fraser and explore all of his exciting Nature Walks on his website: naturewalkswithmark.org.
- Foraged Flavor: All About Sumac (seriouseats.com)
- BLUME: This colorful fall bush is also a edible spice (courierpress.com)
- Mother Nature’s Lemonade (bigpigoutdoors.wordpress.com)
- Sumacade (boomerempowerment.com)
- Mystery Mushroom (rosslynredux.com)
- 2013 Adirondack Fall Foliage Season Begins (www.essexonlakechamplain.com)