My Dirt Time The Adventures of Tom Sciacca

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Staghorn Sumac

My Dirt Time Staghorn sumac is a pretty good tree to know. We've all seen it and most if us don't even know it's uses. First of all the clump of red berry's seen in this small pic is shaped like a horn and that is supposed to be where it's name came from. This clump of berries makes a nice lemonade like drink. Early in the season when it first pops up soak the berries in cold water and then strain it our with cheesecloth or something like that. The later in the year that you gather it the less potent the tastes is. Also check it for bugs. Bugs seem to like it so be careful. In the past I was told to run boiling hot water over the fruit to kill the bugs. However I learned that that is not such a good idea because the hot water releases the tannic acid in the fruit and makes the tea very bitter. If your concerned about the bugs, use cold water at first and once the tea/lemonade is done and the water is redish pink, feel free to boil it and then bring it back down to a good drinking temp in the fridge and add sugar to taste.

Also this Staghorn sumac is great for making straws. The inside of the branches have a soft core. This pithy core can be pushed out with a smaller branch, a thorn or something like that. Once you've done that, you have a sort of straw. It can be used for many things. Getting a fire going. Drinking or even making a container for water. I think I describe how to do that on this site in the "July 2005: Wilderness Survival Skills School" section. But you basically get a piece of wood and a hot coal. You use the straw to concentrate the heat of the coal then eat away at the wood and make a larger and larger depression.

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