Rhus glabra – Smooth Sumac

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Smooth Sumac (Rhus glabra) is a native woody shrub with edible berries.
Smooth sumac has 11-31 pointed leaflets per leaf. Female plants will produce upright berry clusters, or drupes, that ripen to a dark red color in late summer. The berries can be picked through winter.
Smooth sumac can be differentiated from Staghorn sumac (Rhus typhina) by its lack of fuzz on the berries and stems. Sumacs with red berries are edible while sumacs with white berries, including poison ivy and poison sumac, have poisonous berries.
Smooth sumac berries are covered with a combination of acids including malic acid which is found in apples. The berries can be soaked in room temperature water to create an acidic sumac-ade that resembles pink lemonade.

Written by Amy Demers, founder of the Connecticut Foraging Club. To learn more about foraging in Connecticut, check out our upcoming classes.

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