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The sumac

The plant

Sumac, scientific name Rhus coriara L., is a plant belonging to the Anacardiaceae family, to the Rhus genus and to the Coriaria L.

The species of Rhus present in Italy are: Rh. tripartite, Rh. pentaphylla, Rh. coriaria, Rh. typhina.

The sumac

Nutritional Characteristics

Sumac has a high content of gallic acid, but also tannins, anthocyanins, flavonoid glycosides and organic acids.

It also has several organic acids, such as citric, pyruvic and malic acids, which are responsible for the sour taste of sumac. Among the bioactive substances there are also fatty acids, essential and not (in particular oleic and linoleic acids), vitamins (B1, B2, B6, B12, C, PP), carbohydrates (xylose and glucose), minerals (K, Ca, Mg, Na, P, Fe) and a good content of free amino acids. It is also an important source of fiber.

The sumac

Il Sommacco, Sumac, Sumaq, Sumak, Sumaco, Valanidh, So͞omak, السماق, սումակ, смрадлика, ကဗျာ, 漆树, ruj, 漆樹, სუმაკი, σουμάκι, સુમક, סומאק, एक प्रकार का पौधा, スマック, ಸುಮಾಕ್, 옻, сумак, സുമാക്, сумак, سمک, سماق, sumagre, سيوماڪ, Руј, சுமாக், సుమాక్, ซูแมค, isamba nel Mondo

North America

  • Rhus aromatica
  • Rhus copallinum
  • Rhus glabra
  • Rhus integrifolia
  • Rhus kearneyi
  • Rhus lanceolata
  • Rhus malloryi
  • Rhus michauxii
  • Rhus microphylla
  • Rhus ovata
  • Rhus republicensis
  • Rhus rooseae
  • Rhus trilobata
  • Rhus typhina
  • Rhus virens

Asia and Southern Europe

  • Rhus chinensis
  • Rhus coriaria
  • Rhus delavayi


  • Rhus taitensis
  • Rhus sandwicensis

South Africa

  • Rhus crenata – dune crow-berry

The sumac

History of the sumac in Sicily

Inzenga – Palermo – Cultivation of the sumac 1874: “To support the desire of several friends of the island where the cultivation of the sumac, for the first time completely unknown, today would like to undertake and expand.”

“Sumac thrives very well in the olive tree region, and precisely in its hottest and southernmost sub- region where this tree acquires colossal proportions and never freezes, where the mildness of the climate allows the cultivation of orange, carob, pistachio, of prickly pear, and the production of manna, ash and that of cotton wool.”

The sumac

Use in the kitchen

In Italy, in the past it was also used, as can be read in the book by Carducci and Gnaccarini of 1887 “Cookbook” , in which there are recipes with sumac.

The color and scent of Sicilian Sumach are very attractive. Its culinary use is more frequent especially in Lebanese cuisine, to make gastronomic preparations sour, similar to how lemon is used by us in Italy or tamarind in India. Or, the sumac is spread as it is on breads or salads (for example the fattoush).

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