Learning about Spices
What is a spice?
Why were spices important?
Sources of spices
Perfumes and Incenses 
Use of spices as aphrodisiacs
Use of spices as medicines
Culinary herbs
A spice timeline

Table of Spices
Allspice (Pimento)
Anise
Black Pepper
Cardamom
Cassia
Chile Pepper
Chocolate
Cinnamon
Clove
Coriander (Cilantro)
Cumin
Dill
Fennel
Fenugreek
Frankincense and Myrrh
Galangal
Garlic
Ginger
Horseradish
Licorice
Mustard
Nutmeg and Mace
Onion
Saffron
Sugar
Sumac
Tamarind
Turmeric
Vanilla

Contacts and Acknowledgments
Common Name SUMAC SUMAC
Click image to enlarge
Genus SpeciesRhus coriara
FamilyAnacardiaceae
Origin Middle East and Mediterranean countries
Cultivated Southern Italy, Sicily, Near East
  
  
  
  
  
Description The sumac bush, Rhus coriara, has sour, astringent, red-colored berries that are regarded as a spice flavor, being similar to tamarind. The plant is a member of the cashew family; it grows in Mediterranean countries, and the berry is used in cooking in Turkey and Middle Eastern countries and other Arabic countries. It is used in salad dressings and to flavor meats, rice dishes and kebabs. When mixed with other vegetables, such as onions, it is favored as a condiment. The Middle Eastern spice mixture, zatar, contains sumac, thyme and sesame; some varieties of this mixture also contain hyssop, marjoram, cumin or black pepper.

Medical uses have included digestion and bowel problems. It is said to have diuretic and antipyretic properties. See a list of spices by Taste and Hotness.
Useful Parts The berries are dried and ground to create the spice.
Medicinal Properties The sumac bush is related to poison sumac (Rhus vermix); this shrub grows in swampy areas in the USA, and contact with it can produce a rash that is similar to the lesions caused by poison oak and poison ivy.
See chemicals in spices.
Historical View “Its medicinal qualities are wholly to be ascribed to its stypticity or astringency; a property which it possesses in a sufficient degree to render it useful in dyeing, and also in tannin of leather, for it was used in the time of Dioscorides.”

Woodville, William. A supplement to medical botany, or, part the second: containing plates with descriptions of most of the principal medicinal plants not included in the materia medica of the Collegiate Pharmacopoeias of London and Edinburgh. London, Phillips, 1794.
SUMAC
Click image to enlarge

Spice Exhibit URL: http://unitproj.library.ucla.edu/biomed/spice/index.cfm

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