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Sassafras albidum

Sassafras

Family Lauraceae


Use
Tea, soup, beer. The cleaned roots and/or flowers to be steeped in boiling water
to make tea. The leaves, dried and ground, can be used as flavoring and
thickening agents in soups. A beer can be brewed from the young shoots.
CAUTION: IT HAS RECENTLY BEEN SHOWN THAT SASSAFRAS CONATINS
A CHEMICAL THAT CAUSES CANCER IN TEST ANIMALS.


Description

Growth Form: Tree or shrub.

Leaves: 7.5-13cm (3-5in) long, 4-10cm (1.5-4in) wide. Ovate and not toothed with no, 2 or 3 lobes. Reddish petioles.

Leaf, 3-lobed form (Emily Silver)
Leaf with 3 lobes

Bark (Hannah Ramer. Waltham, MA)
Bark

Flowers: Tiny, 10mm (.4in), yellow-greenish, appearing in early spring.

Fruits: Oval blue-black berries in red cup, one-seeded.

Bark: Brown and reddish or grayish, becoming furrowed.

 

Habitat and Range

Forests and thickets on mesic to xeric soils in uplands and valleys. Southwestern Michigan to Maine, south to central Florida and west to eastern Texas.

Season

Roots can be harvested throughout the year. Leaves should be gathered in spring and early summer.

Fun Facts

Sassafras oil from the root bark is used to perfume soaps and flavor root beer.

Early colonists thought the root bark to be a cure-all, and shipped large quantities back to Europe.


Whole tree, with arrows pointing to 3 leaf forms (left to right): no lobes, 2 lobes, 3 lobes.

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