Sassafras Tree

Sassafras Tree

The Sassafras Tree is best known for its use in medicines, root beer, soaps, perfumes, and even toothpaste. The tree would be harvested for its bark, roots, and leaves. When crushed they produce a fragrant oil that was used in the products described above and even for orange clothing dyes. In the 1960s, the United States Food and Drug Administration linked the Sassafras oil as a carcinogen and its use in food and drugs sharply declined.

Nowadays the Sassafras is best known for its autumn beauty. Its Fall colors of orange & pink, yellow & red, and even scarlet & purple make it quite the landscape specimen. With its large leaves, rounded canopy, and tendency to have multiple trunks, the Sassafras is a popular shade tree and a sight to see in the wild.

The Sassafras flowers in the spring can be very fragrant and the blue fleshy fruit that they give way to attract many woodland animals including songbirds, turkey, and even black bear. The leaves of the Sassafras are three-lobes that come to a point…almost resembling that of a rounded-out turkey animal track.

Below is a summary of tree facts for the Sassafras:

Scientific Name: Sassafras albidum
Region: North America
Height: 30-60 feet
Spread: 25-40 feet
Leaf Length & Color: 4-8 inches, green
Fall Leaf Color: Orange; Purple; Red; Yellow
Unique Characteristics: Beautiful fall foliage colors;
Fragrant leaves, bark, & roots;
Sassafras oil listed as a carcinogen by FDA.

The Sassafras is a great tree to find on a hot summer afternoon for its shade, or on an autumn hike for its multi-colored beauty.