sobota, 4 października 2014

Rhus typhina, Rhus hirta - Staghorn Sumac

Polska wersja


   Staghorn Sumac is a low growing tree or tall bush with a picturesqe shape, fancy, velvety red fruit cones and leaves that are turning beautiful, scarlet red in autumn. It is native to eastern North America but is very popular in Europe, cultivated for its ornamental purposes. Rhus typhina syn. Rhus hirta is most common sumac in north of Europe. It hybridise not only with North American Smooth Sumac - Rhus glabra and Shining Sumac - Rhus copallina that share its medicinal and culinary values and so should their hybrids. But also with Miditerranean Rhus coriaria, which fruits are popular spice in Scilly, Turkey, Syria, Tunisia and also other countries of this region. There are also closely related, edible sumacs in China - Rhus chinensis, India - Rhus punjabensis and other South Asian countries. If You are affraid of sumacs because you have heard about poison sumac, you have to know that it looks very differently and have white fruits while all edible sumacs have red fruits. And it is also highly unlikely to find any poison sumac if you are anywhere in Europe and even hard in its homeland in North America. Dr. Henryk Różański famous Polish herbalist claims that tiny spikes/hears, that cover leaves, fruits and young stems of Staghorn sumac can couse breathing problems, allergies or even trigger asthma attack and skin rushes when rubbed. I never heard or read anything about it from any other source, and haven't noticed it myself, though I know this plant for many years. But it sounds reasonable to me and so I advice you to check it yourself for good, before you decide to grow it near your house.


   Staghorn sumac is easy to grow bush that is quickly turining into small beautifull tree. It can grown 2m height in just 3 years but ussually stops growing up after reaching about 5m. Its crown width is ussually bigger than its hight and it have majestatic shape that looks wonderful especiall after leaves turning scarlet red and gold before they drop in late fall. Its crimson fruit cones that appear in late summer are also very ornamental. They are much more vivid than its greeny-yellow flowers and lasts much longer. It is giving its charm, staying at the tops of brunches even for whole winter, but if you want to use it in your kitchen pick it as soon as it will turn fully red. Don't wait till rains will wash away most of its flavour or it'll start to rot. After colecting you can use it fresh, freeze it for later or crumble into small pieces and dry. While most of Staghorn sumacs are dioecious which means they have either male or female flowers there are also some that have both and can self polinate. Rhus typhina can adapt to any soil and nearly any conditions ( at least in temperate climate zones ), so it is not the question of where it will feel good, but where You will feel good with it ( though not poisonous like Poison Sumac, it might couse alergic reactions ). It is hardy to -30'C and can stand severe heats and droughts, the only thing it seems to dislike is swampy, boggy ground and dark shade. It usually spreads through its rhizomes creating colonies of bushes around mother plants so it is better to start control it before it will become quite invasive.


   Staghorn sumac fruits have nicely sour taste and soaked in cold water are giving pleasant lemonade like drink - sumac-ade, it can also be used as a lemon juice or vinegret substitute or brewed into wine.  Dried, grounded fruits of Rhus coriaria (identical in taste to those of Rhus typhina) are a popular spice in Middle East and Miditerranean area, called simply Sumac - which means red in Syrian language. It is added to kebabs, rosted chickens, fish dishes, stews, pizzas, rice, potatos and salads. It is also an ingredient of some of many variations of popular arab spices mix called Za'atar, that is based on Origanum syriacum.


   Rhus typhina have been traditionally used by native North American Indians for common ailments. Fruits are consumed raw, dried or in form of infusion, for coughs, fevers, diabetis, to aid digestion and stop diarrhoea, stomach upset and bowels complains. They are astringent, antimicrobial, diuretic and puryfies the blood. It contains mainly malic acid, tanins, polyphenols, and amino acids, vitamins: C, B1, B2, B6, B12, cyanocobalamin, nicotinamide and biotin. It is also good source of potassium, calcium, magnesium, phosphorum and sodium.
   Dried bark is rich in tannins and act antiseptic, astringent, galactogogue and tonic. In form of decoction it is used to treat diarrhoea, fevers, piles, general debility, uterine debility and to increase lactation. Sap is used applied on warts, but in some people it might couse alergic rash


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