Staghorn Sumac Uses: 7 Uses of Staghorn Sumac

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By Ben

Staghorn sumac uses go beyond its striking, red, cone-shaped fruit clusters that can be seen from a distance during late summer and early fall. This deciduous shrub or small tree that is native to North America has a lot more to offer. In this article, we’ll delve into the various ways in which staghorn sumac can be utilized, beyond just its beauty.

The Many Uses of Staghorn Sumac

Staghorn sumac is a plant that is valued for its versatility and the many benefits it offers. From its culinary and medicinal uses to its landscaping, industrial, and environmental remediation uses, staghorn sumac has much to offer. Its tangy, lemon-like fruits can be used to make refreshing drinks and flavorful spice blends, while its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties make it useful in traditional medicine.

Staghorn sumac is also a popular landscaping plant that provides food and habitat for wildlife and can help stabilize soil and prevent erosion. Its high tannin content makes it useful in leather tanning, while its natural insecticidal properties make it a great alternative to chemical insect repellents. Finally, staghorn sumac has the ability to absorb heavy metals and other pollutants from soil and water, making it a valuable tool in environmental remediation projects.

Culinary Uses

Staghorn sumac has been used for centuries in traditional cuisine. The fruit clusters, which are also called “drupes,” can be harvested and used to make a tangy, lemon-like seasoning. This seasoning can be used to add flavor to a wide variety of dishes, including meats, fish, salads, and vegetables. To make the seasoning, the fruit clusters are dried and then ground into a powder. The powder can also be used to make tea, which has a slightly sour taste and is rich in vitamin C.

Medicinal Uses

Staghorn sumac has been used for medicinal purposes for centuries by various cultures. Its bark, leaves, and fruit have all been used to treat a wide range of ailments, including diarrhea, sore throat, fever, and even tuberculosis. The fruit is particularly rich in antioxidants and has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties. It has also been used to treat skin conditions, such as rashes, and is believed to have astringent properties.

Landscaping Uses

Staghorn sumac is a popular choice for landscaping, as it is a hardy plant that can grow in a variety of soils and conditions. Its unique shape and striking red color make it a great choice for adding interest to gardens and landscaping projects. It is also often used for erosion control, as its deep root system can help prevent soil erosion.

Industrial Uses

Staghorn sumac has a high tannin content, which makes it useful in the production of leather tanning agents. The bark and leaves of the plant are harvested and processed to extract the tannins, which are then used in the tanning process to give leather its desired color and texture.

Dyeing Uses

Staghorn sumac can be used to create a natural dye that can be used to color fabrics and yarns. The bark of the plant is harvested and boiled in water to extract the natural dye. The resulting color can range from light tan to dark brown, depending on the concentration and processing time.

Insect Repellent Uses

Staghorn sumac contains compounds that have insecticidal properties, which make it useful as a natural insect repellent. The dried and ground fruits of the plant can be sprinkled around the perimeter of a home or garden to repel insects such as ants, beetles, and mosquitoes.

Environmental Remediation Uses

Staghorn sumac has been shown to have the ability to remediate contaminated soil and water. The plant’s deep root system can absorb and remove heavy metals and other toxins from the soil, while the leaves and fruits can absorb pollutants from water sources. This makes staghorn sumac a valuable tool in environmental remediation projects.


Staghorn sumac is a versatile plant with many different uses. From culinary and medicinal uses to landscaping, industrial, and environmental remediation uses, staghorn sumac is a plant that is worth exploring for its many benefits. Whether you are interested in cooking with sumac spice, using it as a natural insect repellent, or using it to improve soil and water quality, staghorn sumac is a plant that has much to offer.


What food uses staghorn sumac?

Staghorn sumac is a spice that can be used to add a tangy and lemony flavor to various dishes. The dried and ground sumac berries are often used as a spice rub for lamb, fish, and chicken, and can also be added as a topping to salads and hummus. Middle Eastern chefs commonly use sumac as a topping for fattoush salad to add both color and flavor. In addition, sumac can be included in dressings to provide a unique and zesty taste.

What are the medicinal benefits of staghorn sumac?

Staghorn sumac has been reported to have several medicinal benefits. Native Americans used it as a remedy for colds, fever, and scurvy. They also made a salve by grinding the berries with clay to use on open wounds. Additionally, sumac has shown promise in treating a range of ailments, including diarrhea, dysentery, sore throats, infections, asthma, and cold sores. While more research is needed to fully understand the medicinal properties of staghorn sumac, it has been traditionally used for its potential health benefits for centuries.

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