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The Fruit of the Sumac

sumac panorama





While walking the dog by the river this morning, I noticed the full bloom of the Sumac trees.  At first glance, just some shrubbery that we’ve been seeing our whole lives, but there is more to the Sumac than meets the eyes.


Fruit of the Sumac (drupes)

Last summer, I read in my handy Peterson Field Guide book, Edible Wild Plants Eastern/Central North America, that you can make a lemonade-style drink out of the strange looking, wooly ‘drupes’, or the fruit of the Sumac.  Simply soak them in cold water for 15 minutes, then strain the pink liquid through cheese cloth to remove the fuzzies, add sweetener, and voila – you have an old school Native American beverage!

According to Wikipedia;
-Native Americans used Sumac leaves and drupes in their tobacco mix.

-Sumac leaves contain vegetable tannins which are used for dying and tanning.

-There are 35 species of Sumac, but beware, the ones that grow white drupes are poisonous!

-Drupes are dried, ground, and used as a culinary spice in some Middle Eastern countries.  The spice gives a lemony taste to meat and salads.

Vitamin C is found in the drupes, along with protein, fiber, potassium, calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus.

So next time you see a Sumac, take a closer look at the fruit.  Do you find those fuzzy drupes appetizing?




Local Medicinal Plants – Broadleaf Plantain


Broadleaf Plantain

While walking the dog I noticed multitudes of broadleaf plantain by the river.  They are so common, I can remember even seeing this ‘weed’ as a child.

Broadleaf plantain isn’t just a childhood nostalgic plant from local Ontario, but originates from Europe and Asia, and has spread over most of the world because their seeds have become mixed in with other cereal grains. Plantain is a resilient plant that grows in compacted soil, and can often be found sprouting from sidewalk cracks – they can bounce back from plenty of foot stomping!

What I would never have fathomed about this plant is they are so highly nutritious and edible, packed full of vitamins A, C, and K – including a high calcium content.  Young leaves can be consumed in salads and the older, denser leaves can be broken down in stews.  So, save some money on groceries!

It gets even better.  This ‘weed’, that we’ve been trampling over all our lives, also has medicinal properties to heal wounds if applied as a paste due to cell-growth promotion and anti-microbial properties which prevent infection.  Scientific studies have found mild antibiotic properties in broadleaf plantain, as well as anti-inflammatory, and wound healing activity.

Broadleaf plantain has been widely used in folk medicine throughout the world.  Make the leaves into a tea to treat diarrhea or dysentery; add the flowers and seeds to your tea to soothe a sore throat.  Traditionally, the roots were used for respiratory infections and to treat fever.

I look forward to finding out how it tastes!


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