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lemonade berry, squawbush, skunk bush, three-leaf sumac
Anacardiaceae - Sumac
Leonora Curtin Wetland Preserve, Museum Hill
DescriptionThis is a native, deciduous, aromatic shrub. Its leaves have 3 lobes and medium to olive green, similar to the currant. Leaf shape may vary. In the fall they turn red, orange, yellow or plum-purple. Some people consider the leaves ill-scented when crushed. In summer this shrub usually has tart, red and slightly hairy berries at the tips of its branches.
Mature Size2 to 6 ft. tall and 6 ft. wide
BloomIn April and May small yellow flowers appear in dense clusters before the leaves.
Interesting FactsIt is called Sqawbush because the women (squaw) of many Indian tribes used its stems more extensively than any other plant, except willow, in basket making.
Traditional and Medicinal UsesBig game, small animals, and cattle browse this shrub. Berries are eaten by birds, bears and deer. It provides useful cover and nesting sites for birds. The berries are used with sugar to make a lemonade-like drink. They were dried by Native Americans for future use and also used as one of the ingredients of pemmican. Besides using it for baskets, it has been used to make arrow shafts, infant backboards and snow shoe frames. Its crushed leaves have been used as a foot powder and a deodorant. Spanish-Americans used a decoction of its roots as a rinse to make hair grow. A drink for cold symptoms was made from the bark. Its dry bark has been ground into a powder and rubbed on a sore mouth. Leaves and roots have been boiled for many complaints. A good solid black dye has been made from a decoction of its leaves and berries combined with pinon pine gum.
Santa Fe Botanical Garden SitesLeonora Curtin Wetland Preserve, Museum Hill