SUMAC (mishnaic Heb. אוֹג), the Arabic name for the Rhus coriaria.
This shrub or low tree, belonging to the family Anacardiadeae, which includes the *terebinth and the *pistachio , grows wild in the groves of Israel. The tree is dioecious, with pinnate leaves containing a high proportion of tannin which is used in the manufacture of leather, whence its Hebrew name og ha-bursaka'im ("tanner's sumac"). The female trees bear reddish fruits (in Ar. sumac means "red") arranged in dense clusters. The fruits are shaped like lentils, and are hairy with an acrid taste. It is used as a spice by some Oriental communities. It was cultivated in mishnaic times and is therefore reckoned with those fruits to which the law of pe'ah applied (Pe'ah 1:5), but in Judea where it grew wild abundantly it was not very highly valued and a lenient attitude was adopted about pe'ah (Dem. 1:1).
Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.