Staghorn Sumac Edible: A Tangy and Nutritious Treat

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By Ben

Staghorn sumac is an edible deciduous shrub that is native to North America. Its striking red fruit clusters are a flavorful spice that can be used in a variety of dishes. Additionally, the leaves of the staghorn sumac can also be used as a versatile ingredient in cooking. In this article, we’ll explore the many ways in which staghorn sumac is edible, from its fruit to its leaves, and discover the nutritional benefits it provides. We’ll also cover some important preparation and safety tips when consuming staghorn sumac.

Staghorn Sumac Fruit: A Flavorful Spice

The most well-known edible part of the staghorn sumac plant is its fruit, which is a bright red, cone-shaped cluster of berries that ripen in late summer and early fall. These berries are packed with tangy and lemony flavor and can be used as a spice to add zest to a range of dishes. The dried and ground berries are a popular ingredient in Middle Eastern cuisine, where they are used to season meat, fish, and vegetables. Sumac berries can also be used to make a refreshing drink, such as the Middle Eastern beverage, Sumac-ade.

Staghorn Sumac Leaves: A Versatile Ingredient

While less commonly used, the leaves of the staghorn sumac plant are also edible and provide a unique flavor to dishes. The leaves have a slightly sour and tangy taste and can be used fresh or dried. In traditional Middle Eastern cuisine, staghorn sumac leaves are often used to flavor salads, and they can also be added to soups and stews to enhance the taste. In addition, the leaves can be brewed into a tea and have been used for their medicinal properties.

Nutritional Benefits of Staghorn Sumac

Staghorn sumac is not only a flavorful ingredient, but it also provides several nutritional benefits. The fruit is high in antioxidants, which help to protect against cell damage and lower the risk of chronic diseases. The berries are also a good source of vitamin C, which is essential for a healthy immune system, and have anti-inflammatory properties. In addition, staghorn sumac leaves are high in fiber, which supports digestive health and can help to lower cholesterol levels.

Preparation and Safety

When using staghorn sumac for cooking or making beverages, it is important to properly prepare and store the plant. The fruit should be thoroughly dried and ground before use, and the leaves should be washed and dried. Staghorn sumac should be stored in an airtight container in a cool, dry place to maintain freshness. It is important to note that while staghorn sumac is generally considered safe to eat, it may cause an allergic reaction in some individuals.


Staghorn sumac is a versatile and flavorful ingredient that has been used for centuries in cooking and traditional medicine. From its tangy fruit to its sour leaves, staghorn sumac offers a range of culinary possibilities and provides several nutritional benefits. When properly prepared and stored, staghorn sumac is a safe and delicious addition to any dish.


What parts of staghorn sumac are edible?

The staghorn sumac is an edible plant that you can eat its young shoots and berries. The first-year shoots that are peeled from old stumps are the best, but the springtime tips of old branches are also good. So, both the young shoots and the berries are edible.

Can you eat staghorn sumac berries raw?

Yes, the ripe red berries of the staghorn sumac plant can be eaten raw or dried. These berries are known for their acidic and tart flavor and are commonly used to make berry tea or sumac-ade.

What does staghorn sumac taste like?

Staghorn sumac has a unique taste that can be described as tart with cherry and toasty notes. It is less astringent and is often used as a finishing spice. This indigenous American sumac plant has a complex and mild flavor that is distinct from other spices.

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