Summary of laurel sumac and its traditional use

Kumeyaay name: ektii

Laurel Sumac (Malosma laurina)



The laurel sumac is a member of the Cashew family and is a common shrub along the southern California and Baja California coastline. This rounded, evergreen shrub is recognizable by its large leaves. These leaves display striking red veins. The plant becomes very aromatic as its white clusters of flowers emerge. Like most successful plants in the chaparral and coastal sage scrub, the laurel sumac is extremely drought tolerant.

The Kumeyaay people dry out the fruits of this plant and then grind the material into a flour. The Chumash people also created a flour from the fruits. This shrub has additional medicinal uses among the Kumeyaay. The plant is featured in women’s puberty ceremony. It’s also used in a bathing ritual that occurs during childbirth. There are additional reports that the laurel sumac is used to treat venereal disease.