Smooth Sumach

(Rhus glabra) Much used by native Americans, mainly as a dye plant. The Ojibwa, for example used the pulp of the stalk to produce yellow (Buhler), while the Omaha and Winnebago used the roots for the same purpose (Gilmore). The Plains Indians used to dry the autumn leaves for smoking (Gilmore). They used the shrub widely, too, for medicinal purposes. One was to make a styptic wash from the boiled fruit to check bleeding (Sanford), especially to stop bleeding after childbirth (Corlett). The powdered seeds would also have been applied to wounds, and to treat piles. The juice of the fresh fruit was used for warts and for skin diseases like tetter, while the fruit decoction was taken as a gargle for quinsy, mouth and throat ulcers, and as wash for ringworm (Lloyd). It was even said that the Thompson Indians of British Columbia made a decoction that was claimed to be a powerful remedy for syphilis (Teit).

Kiowa Indians claimed that it is not a medicine in itself. But they were deeply involved in the peyote cult, and sumach, they said, was used to "purify" the body and mind so that peyote, the real medicine, could effect a cure more easily (Vestal & Schultes).

Smyrnium olusatrum > ALEXANDERS

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