Herbs of the Holyland by Nissim Krispil

advanced search »
Common name:


Synonym name:

Hebrew name:

אוג הבורסקאים

Scientific name:

Rhus coriaria



Arabic name:


2-4 m
Flowering color:
Flowering period:
Growing areas:
Sumac tree can be found in Arab villages, in the edges of agricultural terraces in the Golan Heights, in Mount Hermon, the Galilee, Carmel, the hills of Judea and Samaria and Hebron.
A Shrub or tree, its leaves composed of elongated and dentate leaflets, its flowers are greenish, and grow in dense panicles. when the flowers coming to fruition it looks like a reverses cluster of fruits. The fruits are red, Sphere -shaped and wrapped with a velvet-like peel that has a sour taste. In the folk medicine of the Israeli Arabs they use the fruit steeping as a remedy for diarrhea, abdominal pain, toothache, gum infections, diseases of the liver and spleen, and regulating the activity of the urinary tract.
For treating Urethritis, liver and spleen disease  
Dilute heaping teaspoon of sumac powder in a cup of boiling water, after 5 minutes, sweeten with honey and drink, the recommended dosage is 3-4 cups a day. The powder can also be mixed with cold water and there is no need to sweeten. 
Other way is to soak 10 clusters of sumac in a liter of water, stir, leave it for half an hour and then drink. The steeping is also useful for treating teeth and gums problems
The spice Sour powder of sumac is used for salads and cooked or baked poultry, making vinegar, lemon juice and beverages, spreads and sauces and as an important ingredient of the spice zaatar.
Our ancestors used all parts of the plant for the tanning process, hence its Hebrew name "the fruit of the tanners" – 'og ha bursekaim'.  Sumac fruits were used for food, and they are reminded in the Mishnah: "when do fruit become liable to tithing? … Red berries (sumach) and mulberries after they become red, so too all red colored fruit" (ma'aserot 1,2).
 The Arabs of Israel use sour spice that produced from sumac fruits in many foods - especially as an important ingredient in the preparation of za'atar. 
According to Dioscorides, the great Greek physician from the first century AD, the sumac fruits are used for coloring hair in black and also for treating dysentery and ear pain. In the Cairo Jewish archive was found evidence that the sumac fruits are stimulating and strengthens the intestines.