Friday, August 17, 2012

Indian Lemonade and Cashews - Amazing Sumac

Smooth Sumac, with its spiraling cascades of deep red drupes, is sure to catch the eye of the late summer sojourner. For all their aesthetic appeal to we bi-peds, the brilliant red berries provide a gastronomic boon for the feathered fauna here in the South.

While not ubiquitous, this head-turning shrub is rumored to be the only tree native to all 48 of the contiguous United States.

 Smooth Sumac is part of the cashew family, perhaps most famous for its nut-bearing tropical namesake and the skin-irritating trio of poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac.

Following the tradition of the earliest Americans, some brave souls fancy a lovely pink beverage brewed from the crushed ripe berries of smooth, staghorn, or winged sumac, referred to as sumac-ade or Indian lemonade. 

Others might prefer just to catch a few rays while lounging among the mounds of radiant fruit. 

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