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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So i'm in a buddies back yard on Sunday and we were gonna do the marshmallow bonfire thing with the kids and realized we have no wire marshmallow sticks. So we start looking for something to cook them on and without thinking twice I cut down a couple sumac branches and was about to begin whittling -

I've never been on the receiving end of sumac - poison ivy tears me up, but sumac does nothing to me. Anyway, one of our guests says to me "hey...tha's sumac man..." and I was like "so...i never get it...DOH"

Just thought i'd share - I went further down the yard and cut down some maple twigs to use instead LOL...almost had some itchy kids OOPS!
 

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what you cut was more than likely staghorn sumac, not poison sumac
poison sumac only grows in swampy, wet areas and is fairly rare in PA
 

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Mike B - Thanks for that info! I was curious about that because we have sumac in our yard - but definetly not wet and swampy.
 

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I agree with Mike.

Poison sumac can be far worse than just itchy--it can be fatal and is considered to be one of the most toxic plants we have in the US.

Staghorn sumac (Rufus Typhina) seeds can be used to make tea--although I have never tried it. It is a major food source for wildlife, both the seeds and as browse.

The edges of the leaves of Staghorn Sumac are toothed, poison Sumac (Rhus Vernix) leaf edges are smooth.

As a kid I did get a dose of poison Sumac which was growing along a ditch in one of our meadows--something I never want to repeat!
 

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as stated the red seed tassles have been used for tea
they are also used to make dye, trappers dyeing their traps is one of the more common uses
after reading the Foxfire books as a young boy, I had a lot of clothes that were the color of "sumac"
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
anyone have pics of the non poisonous sumac? The stuff growing in the backyard is not swampy, has fuzzy stems that look and feel like deer antler velvet - and has TONS of red berries and tassles. noone died from the marshmallows...so we must have done okay but i washed the heck outta my hands and knives LOL
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
yup...that's the stuff. So i guess I should have made some pink lemonade from the berries and watched for ill reactions from the spectators LOL

thanks guys!
 

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I notice the bluebirds are picking on the sumac seed heads every spring. There must be insects in there that they are eating.
 

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The staghorn makes a nice ornamental shrub. I don't know if is domesticated or not but I see some in backyard gardens and it looks nice when kept trimmed.
 

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I used to belong to a Junior Audubon Club (about 48 years ago!). We used to make Sumac Lemonade all the time. I think we strained it through cheesecloth.
 

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The red staghorn sumac barries make a drink much like pink lemonade. I had some once, it's ok. They steep the red berries in boiling water. But the "tea " is full of those little hairs to be strained out before adding sugar and drinking. Sassafrass is better (never mind the slight narccotic in it)
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
i LOVE sassafrass tea
 

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zimmerstutzen said:
The red staghorn sumac barries make a drink much like pink lemonade. I had some once, it's ok. They steep the red berries in boiling water. But the "tea " is full of those little hairs to be strained out before adding sugar and drinking. Sassafrass is better (never mind the slight narccotic in it)
Don't forget... some Sceintests in California are trying to tell everyone that Sassafrass causes Cancer!


seems none of my family that drank Sassafrass tea, has dropped dead yet from Cancer!
 

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jayd4wg said:
yup...that's the stuff. So i guess I should have made some pink lemonade from the berries and watched for ill reactions from the spectators LOL

thanks guys!
yup boil a tea from the sead pods strain & sugar to taste
jus like lemonaid & quite tasty
 

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What you're describing pubescent trunks and branches with pubescent red fruit (berries) sounds like staghorn sumac. I do make a refreshingly tart summertime drink with the fruit of staghorn. It LOOKS like a light pink lemonade, and is best made by steeping with water that is not boiling. I like mine with sugar.
"EAT MORE KNOTWEED"
 

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I got into some poison sumac two years ago. NASTY stuff!! I get poison ivy just about every spring/summer doing lawn work for folks and it's nothing compared to the sumac. The stuff from the doc was expensive too; the druggist wanted $95 for a little tube of creme! I raised a little heck and she said she'd give me the generic, it was "only" about $35.
 

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I was working a small trout stream near Pittsburgh a few years ago and took the red fruits off of the top of staghorn sumac and threw a few into the water above some trout. Sure enough as soon as it hit the water the trout nailed it. Did it several times and they kept hitting them.
 
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