Rhus aromatica (aromatic sumac, lemon sumac, polecat bush, skunkbush, skunkbush sumac, squawbush, sweet sumac)

description:  perennial deciduous woody shrub

place of origin:  eastern North America

urban habitat: hardy species that can grow in full sun or partial shade and can tolerate floods, drought, and a variety of soil types; in the urban environment it can be found at disturbed sites, abandoned fields, along roadsides, and rocky slopes.

ecological function: pioneering species, erosion control, food and habitat for wildlife.

history: Rhus aromatica is planted for erosion control on banks and for reclamation of eroded, disturbed or depleted landscapes. Native Americans made a tart drink from its berries and used parts of the plant medicinally to treat boils, diarrhea, and other ailments. The Lakota tribe mixed its leaves with tobacco for smoking. Its bark and leaves has been used as an astringent, diuretic and for treatment of colds, stomachaches, toothaches, and bleeding. The fruits are purported to help in the treatment of late-onset diabetes. Due to its high tannin content, its leaves and bark have been used for tanning leather.