Three-leaf sumac

DESCRIPTION: Rhus trilobata, also known as Three-leaf sumac, Skunk-bush, Basket-bush, and Lemonade-bush, is a versatile plant that can grow in most climates including cold regions and hot, moisture deprived regions. Described as a shrub, this plant usually grows in elevations above 3000 feet. Rhus trilobata is deciduous and commonly known to grow in height to between three and twelve feet tall. The leaves have three leaflets and can range in color from green in the summer to red-orange in the fall. It produces yellow flowering buds in the springtime, which eventually turn into red berries that are toxic to neither humans nor animals. The Rhus trilobata has been domesticated and is widely available for purchasing.

Rhus trilobata has been used historically by various Native American tribes. The bark of the plant was chewed as a cold remedy; the fruit was used as prevention for hair loss, the treatment for smallpox, and as an astringent. The leaves were boiled for contraception and gastrointestinal aid, and the roots were used for a tuberculosis treatment as well as a deodorant.
Non medical uses include using the plant material for basketry, fishing tools and decoration. Dried leaves could be mixed with tobacco and smoked. The berries were used to make tea, a lemonade-like drink, porridge, bread and cake.



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Rhus trilobata
This page was authored by Stepnanie Boucher