About 250 species; see text
Sumac (pronounced /ˈʃuːmæk/ or /ˈs(j)uːmæk/; also spelled sumach) is any one of approximately 250 species of flowering plants in the genus Rhus and related genera, in the family Anacardiaceae. Sumacs grow in subtropical and temperate regions throughout the world, especially in Africa and North America.
Sumacs are shrubs and small trees that can reach a height of 1–10 metres (3.3–33 ft). The leaves are spirally arranged; they are usually pinnately compound, though some species have trifoliate or simple leaves. The flowers are in dense panicles or spikes 5–30 centimetres (2.0–12 in) long, each flower very small, greenish, creamy white or red, with five petals. The fruits form dense clusters of reddish drupes called sumac bobs. The dried drupes of some species are ground to produce a tangy purple spice.
Sumacs propagate both by seed (spread by birds and other animals through their droppings), and by new shoots from rhizomes, forming large clonal colonies.
The word sumac traces its etymology from Old French sumac (13 century), from Medieval Latin sumach, from Arabic summaq - meaning "red."
Cultivation and uses
The fruits (drupes) of the genus Rhus are ground into a deep-red or purple powder used as a spice in Middle Eastern cuisine to add a lemony taste to salads or meat. In Arab cuisine, it is used as a garnish on meze dishes such as hummus and is added on salads in the Levant. In Iranian (Persian and Kurdish) cuisine, sumac is added to rice or kebab. In Turkish cuisine, for example, it is added to salad-servings of kebabs and lahmacun.
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