This section of the book is from "The Complete Herbalist" by Dr. O. Phelps Brown. Also available from Amazon: The Complete Herbalist: The People Their Own Physicians By The Use Of Nature's Remedies.
MEDICINAL PARTS. The bark and fruit.
Description. -- Sumach is a shrub, from six to fifteen feet high, consisting of many straggling branches, covered with a pale-gray bark, having occasionally a reddish tint. The leaves are alternate, consist of from six to fifteen leaflets, which are lanceolate, acuminate, acutely serrate, shining and green above, whitish beneath, becoming red in the fall. The flowers are greenish red, and fruit a small red drupe, hanging in clusters, with a crimson down, extremely sour to the taste, which is due to malate of lime.
History. -- Sumach grows in the thickets and waste grounds of Canada and the United States. It flowers in June and July, but matures its fruit in September and October. The bark and berries are officinal. The berries should be gathered before rains have washed away the acid properties which reside in their external, downy efflorescenace. Both the bark and berries yield their active influence to water. Great care is to be taken in the selection of several species of Rhus, as many of them are highly poisonous.
Properties and Uses. -- The berries are refrigerant and diuretic; the bark is tonic, astringent, and antiseptic. The bark of the root has sometimes been used with success in decoction or syrup as a palliative of gonorrhoea, leucorrhoea, diarrhoea, hectic fever, dysentery, and scrofula. Combined with the barks of white pine and slippery elm, in certain particular doses of decoction, it will, with other very simple treatment, cure syphilis.
Dose. -- From one to three fluid ounces of the decoction of bark. Of the infusion of berries, from one to four fluid ounces.