SUMAC Staghorn: Yields light yellows, tans and reddish browns to grey
Source: Backyard, roadsides in the country or powdered bark
There are several species of Sumac that grow within Canada, the U.S. and Asia. They are also found in ornamental gardens in Europe where they've been naturalized. The Staghorn Sumac is common and is noted for its velvety growth on branches and twigs. It grows profusely in this area. It's been used as a dye and a mordant, tanning for leather and for medicinal purposes since ancient times. In Middle Eastern cuisine, the berries are dried and crushed and used as a tangy, crimson spice. The tannins are used on Moroccan leather goods with shades of red, brown and black.
Sumac was also used in combination with other plants in ceremonial tobacco rituals among Natives in North America. The Ojibwe, Navajo and Cherokee, for example, also used the bark, twigs, roots, leaves and berries to produce a natural dye. It also was used as infusions for medicinal drinks and a poultice for skin irritation or sunburn and blisters.
Different parts of the tree are used to obtain different dye colours. The leaves for example are high in tannins and can be used on their own to obtain a medium tan brown colour. Black and pale red colours are the result of different mordants mixed with the berries. The fresh roots can be used in the Spring for a yellow/orange dye. And the bark, roots and leaves can be used in combination to get a brown/black.
Powdered Sumac is a popular dyestuff made from the bark of the tree.
You can steep the berries and drink it as a tea or a cool drink in the Summer.