Sassafras

Sassafras albidumSassafras albidum drupe on its pedicel. Such sassy colors!

This should be eaten by a bird, the single seed within spread elsewhere, hopefully to germinate into one of these lovely three-leaf-type trees.

This wonderfully aromatic plant–from the roots to the leaves–was long used by Native Americans for medicinal purposes. It was also one of the major colonial exports back to Europe, for it was reputed to work on the pox! (It didn’t, but what-evs.) In addition, it was the original source for root beer, since banned as carcinogenic, and filé powder. To paraphrase a certain spider, “Some Tree!”

5 Responses to “Sassafras”


  1. 1 Leslie Farragher August 15, 2016 at 12:56 pm

    Nice post…we’ve been tromping through the woods of Martha’s Vineyard, seeing sassafras everywhere. Those leaves are unmistakable…I didn’t know it budded…kinda reminds me of a beach plum!

    • 2 mthew August 15, 2016 at 8:03 pm

      Colors sure are similar to a nice ripe beach plum. Bet you’re seeing a few of those on the Vineyard. These Sassafras fruits are much smaller, about the size of my pinky fingernail.

  2. 3 Paul Lamb August 16, 2016 at 5:22 am

    It must need a certain soil condition. I have not a one on my 80 Ozark acres. (Nor any dogwood.) Yet the next county over has them everywhere.

  3. 4 Ellen August 17, 2016 at 12:49 pm

    Is it really carcinogenic? I grew up chewing on the bark of the trees. I think it was this tree.

    • 5 mthew August 17, 2016 at 2:25 pm

      That’s what they say; feed enough rats enough of anything…, but people still do use it to make their own homemade root beer.


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