Rhus coriaria

Rhus coriaria

The Sicilian summation (Rhus coriaria L.) is a plant belonging to the Anacardiaceae family. It was introduced by the Arabs in Sicily, and favored by favorable climate and land, spread first in the area of Palermo and then in almost all of the island, especially in the arid and stony terrain.

Systematic –
From a systematic point of view, the Sicilian summation belongs to the Eukaryota Domain, the Kingdom Plantae, the Magnoliophyta Division, the Magnoliopsida Class, the Sapindales Order, the Anacardiaceae Family and then the Genus Rhus and the Species R. Coriaria.

Etymology –
The etymology of the summation name derives from the summāq Arabic which in turn originates from the term summāqia, the name of a very rich plate of Islamic origin. From the etymology of the plant, therefore, it is possible to understand its origin and its ancient uses.

Geographic Distribution and Habitat –
Rhus coriaria L. is a species commonly found in southern Europe and the Middle East. In Italy it is quite widespread, from the sea level up to 800-1000 m altitude, often as a wreck of ancient crops. In Sicily it is spread especially in the provinces of Palermo and Trapani where it is still in the marginal areas not interested in cultivation and between the margins of fields cultivated but not accessible to the processing and mechanization.

Description –
Sommacco is a deciduous shrub, which can reach heights up to 3 meters. It has pennate leaves, 10-20 centimeters long, with serrated edge. The flowers, yellow-greenish, are gathered in cobwebs. It flowers in May-August. The fruits are red-brown drupe; They are poisonous if consumed fresh.
The color of the apple is an intense purple and has an agro flavor, similar to that of the grated lemon peel.
There are two different types of summation: Middle Eastern Rhus coriaria, known as Sicilian summation, and North American Rhus aromatic. In total there are over two hundred and fifty known species and some of them are poisonous! Therefore, be careful not to confuse them; Never use culinary endings for ornamental use.

Cultivation –
For cultivation see the following sheet.

Uses and Traditions –
Walking through the Sicilian countryside, it is easy to come across the summation, a hairy and soft-to-touch, leaf-shaped plant characterized by intense red-brown-colored flowers, often considered to be weird and annoying. In fact, this is a plant rich in beneficial properties for our body.
The fruits of the summation, harvested before they come to maturation and drying, once crushed, give rise to an acidic spice, similar to lemon juice, almost unknown to the west but particularly used in Middle Eastern cuisine: Lebanese and Sirianians use it for Tasting the fish; Iraqis and Turks add it to salads; Iranians and Georgians season the kebab. Ideal with lentils, stuffed with chicken, onions and yoghurt sauces.
From the sump, the juice is obtained by immersing the seeds shredded in water for twenty minutes (about 1 dl of water per 35 grams of seeds), then drain and squeeze. This spice has an antioxidant power (ORAC) among the highest ever, an index about 73 times more potent than an apple, which is known to be an excellent antioxidant. In the Middle Eastern countries it prepares an acid drink that is administered for the treatment of mild stomach disorders.
Sumac is widely used in cooking in Arabia, Turkey and the Levant, and especially in Lebanese cuisine. In these areas is an important acidification agent used where other regions should use lemon, tamarind or vinegar. It is rubbed on the first of grilled kebabs and can be used in this way with fish or chicken.
The juice extracted from the summation is popular in salad dressings and marinades and the powder form is used in stews and vegetables and chicken stews. “Summing seed eaten in meat sauces, all sorts of belly flows …” (Gerard, 1597) A mixture of yogurt and apple is often served with skewers.
Sumac has also been traditionally used as antifibrogenic, antimycotic, anti-inflammatory, antimalarial, antimicrobial, antimutagenic, antioxidant, anti-thrombin, antitumor, antiviral, cytotoxic, hypoglycemic, and leucopenia. Containing about 10% of anthocyanidins, each gram contains 100 mg of anthocyanin. If you are looking for a superior antioxidant, then you have found it!
Berries have diuretic properties, and are used in intestinal disorders and to reduce fever. In the Middle East, an acid drink is made by them to relieve stomach upset.
Once the bark and leaves of the plant extracted the tannins used in dyeing and the tanning process of the skins.
The use of summation has arrived in Greece from the Middle East where it is most widely used. It is also used in rice and vegetable dishes.
Remember the Za’atar, a blend of tomato and thyme to treat labs, a yoghurt-based cream cheese.
In the Middle East, the summit seems to be very tied to Nawruz (the pre-Islamic Iranian New Year coinciding with the spring equinox), a millennial celebration that is usually celebrated on March 21, during the feast seven dishes must be served Ingredients that begin with the S, the board must remain packed for thirteen days to wish you luck and prosperity at home.
In Sicily however, the uses were different: the bark and the leaves were collected and sent to the tanneries, here extracted the tannins that were used in the tanning and dyeing process of skins. This use was made, even in ancient times. The technique was refined and reached the best results in the production of renowned Moroccan and Cordovani leather, which gave a range of beautiful shades from green to blue.
The crushed leaves were placed in large bags and marketed or as such or in a powder with a soft touch to the touch, of gray, velvety, and smelly. In 1885, with over 28,000 hectares of cultivated land, the summation was the third agricultural cultivation in Sicily. Then with the discovery of alternative chemicals for the tanning industry (chromium compounds), the importance of crops has been decreasing over time until disappearing.
The Sommacco was already known to the Egyptians and to the Greeks who used it as a dyeing dye. His scientific name “rhus coriaria” denounces the use made of his bark and leaves as a tannic substance in vegetable tanning.
The leaves of this shrub take a beautiful red color in the autumn, its flowers are white and its fruits of a red tending to brown. Spice is produced from these fruits that are harvested before full ripening and are dried. They can be used entirely, but are generally reduced to dust.
The pressing tanning industry was very active in Palermo, about thirty years ago. The chemical stain industry has definitely put it to a standstill.
Probably the Romans were discovering the possible uses of this plant and it is certain that it was very in use in the Middle Ages.
In more remote times, Dioscoride recognized its astringent and anti-inflammatory effects and recommended the resin as an analgesic for local use in caries and dyeing to make black hair. Mesue recommends food use with boiled francolin and, better still, in fries with which it would further expose its constrictive action on the intestine.
In the kitchen since the Roman era, the mature woods (green are toxic) were used, dried and grated on the food or infused into the water, which gave the preparations a pleasant acidic taste, more bland and delicate than lemon, but the diffusion and The fortune of the summation in gastronomy owes to the medieval Arabic cuisine that was widely used in it.
Let’s see in detail what substances are contained in the summation: tannins; Organic acids (malic, citric, succinic, oleic, stearic, linoleic, maleic); Anthocyanin pigments; Mineral salts (phosphorus, potassium, copper, iron, zinc, magnesium, calcium and sodium); fibers; essential oils; Omega3 and vitamin B.
In detail, instead of summing properties, we remember:
Diuretic properties, favors the expulsion of toxins from the body;
Antioxidant properties, helps counteract the harmful action of free radicals;
Antipyretic properties, helps lower the fever;
Antibacterial properties, counteract the attack of bacteria;
Antifungal properties, contrasts the proliferation of mycoses;
Anti-inflammatory properties, combats flogic episodes;
Ischemic properties, protects the cardiovascular system;
Hypoglycemic properties, helps keep blood glucose levels low;
Antifibrogenic properties, it inhibits the formation of fibrosis;
Antimalarial properties;
Antithrombin property and antiaterosclerotic properties;
Antitumor property, ie it prevents the formation of cancer cells, but does not cure cancer (it is not a substitute for chemotherapy);
Analgesic properties, helps to cure the spasms and the affections of the digestive system;
Helps regulate the intestines;
Protects the nervous and cerebral system from the onset of Alzheimer’s;
Antiemorragic properties;
Anti-diarrheal properties, great remedy to counteract dysentery;
Tonic properties;
Hemorrhoid properties.
Also note the contraindications of the summation.
There are some who say that the fresh berry fruits are not poisonous when they are ripe, but only when they are still green. In doubt consider them poisonous and consumed only those of the Rhus corian species once they are ripe and dried.
Summoning in high doses can cause: intoxication, delirium, dizziness, kidney and gastrointestinal damage.
Some people are particularly allergic to this plant. In fact, their hands swell as soon as they touch the branches; This inflammation can also cause dangerous ulcerations. For this reason it is advisable to avoid children touching these plants or putting their berries in the mouth. The latter contain harmful juices even if they belong to species that are not particularly poisonous.

Methods of Preparation –
Summation, as it is said, is widely used in Arabic cuisine (the name comes from Arabic summāq) and Middle Eastern, particularly Lebanese and Kurdish; In Turkey is added to hummus both to enrich the aroma and to mere decorative purpose. It is added to fish and meat dishes, mixed with sliced ​​onions and even in the preparation of some drinks. The fruits can also be used fresh: they are broken and kept soaked in water for about a quarter of an hour, then the juice will be extracted from the vegetables; Alternatively they are cooked in water to create a kind of thick sauce that is always used with vegetables. Bride well with lentils and chicken.
It is slightly sweet in flavor and can be taken in water like a tea or matched with foods.
Here we propose the recipe for a soup where the use of this spice is well-suited to so many beneficial properties.
The recipe is that of Soup at Summation:
Ingredients for 4 people
A bunch of beets;
2 carrots;
an onion;
A leek;
An eggplant (if seasoned);
Powder, cumin, ginger, cinnamon;
shelled walnuts;
extra virgin olive oil;
Salt and Pepper To Taste..
Grate the onion with oil and all the spices in a pan. Then combine the leeks and carrots after cleaning them and sliced ​​them with washers, the eggplant after cutting it to dabs and peeling off the peel, the beets, and boiling them with water. As soon as the soup is well cooked, pour it warm in the dishes and season with coarse chopped nuts and a crude oil. Accompanied with toasted croutons.
You can pick up recipes from ethnic cuisine to experience new flavors, but it is important not to overdo it with natural remedies because the doses can create several problems, as mentioned above, and ask your doctor for advice.
Among the preparations for therapeutic use we mention one: Recipe of the decoction of summation.
Needed: 15 grams of dry plant (to be purchased strictly in herbal medicine if you are not in a position to distinguish the various species) in a liter of water. Boil for five minutes, let cool and filter. Drink two cups a day at most.
The mother’s dye and the dried bark can also be found on the market. Recall that for dosages and dosage it is best to always consult a doctor.

Guido Bissanti

Sources
– Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
– Treben M., 2000. The Health of the Lord’s Pharmacy, Tips and Experiences with Medicinal Herbs, Ennsthaler Publisher
– Pignatti S., 1982. Flora d’Italia, Edagricole, Bologna.
– Conti F., Abbate G., Alessandrini A., Blasi C. (eds.), 2005. An annotated checklist of the Italian vascular flora, Palombi Editore.

Attention: Pharmaceutical applications and surgical uses are indicated for information purposes only; they do not represent any prescription of a medical type; Therefore, no responsibility for their use for any curative, aesthetic or food use is considered.

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One thought on “Rhus coriaria

  • Tuesday February 27th, 2018 at 08:52 PM
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    Aquí en Jaén crece el rhus coriaria de manera dispersa, tratar de recuperar poblaciones en esta parte del planeta. Espectacular en otoño

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