Rhus typhina

Common Names: Staghorn sumac
Category: Trees
Sub-category: Sumac

A deciduous shrub to small tree in the Anacardiaceae or cashew family, native to eastern North America. It grows to 3 to 10 m tall, and has alternate, pinnately compound leaves 25 to 55 cm long, each with 9 to 31 serrate leaflets 6 to 11 cm long. The leaf petioles and the stems are densely covered in rust-colored hairs. The fruit of staghorn sumac is one of the most identifiable characteristics, forming dense clusters of small red drupes at the terminal end of the branches; the clusters are conic, 10 to 20 cm long and 4 to 6 cm broad at the base. The plant flowers from May to July and fruit ripens from June to September. The foliage turns a brilliant red in autumn.

Staghorn sumac grows in gardens, lawns, the edges of forests, and wasteland. It can grow under a wide array of conditions, but is most often found in dry and poor soil on which other plants cannot survive.

Edible Notes: The berries are edible and may be a good source of vitamin C. Dried, ground sumac berries are used in middle eastern cuisine, especially in Turkey, in a seasoning blend known as Za'atar. The dried berries can also be made into a tea, and then chilled and sweetened as an alternative to pink lemonade. Look for sumac berries in the spice aisle of specialty food stores. Penzey's Spices (https://www.penzeys.com/) in Norwalk, CT has had this spice for sale.
Warnings: Can be confused with poison sumac, which can cause painful blisters and rash if touched, in a similar manner as poison ivy.