sassafras Lauraceae Sassafras
|Leaf: Alternate, simple, ovate to elliptical, entire, 3 to 6 inches long, pinnately veined and variably lobed, green above and below and fragrant when crushed; leaves may be unlobed, 2-lobed (resemble a mitten), or 3-lobed (resemble a trident), and all three shapes may be present on the same branch.
Flower: Species is dioecious; small but quite showy, both male and females are bright yellow-green, borne in 2 inch racimes appearing in early to mid-spring.
Fruit: Dark shiny blue, ovoid, fleshy drupes (1/3 inch long) that are borne in a red cup attached to a red stalks, held upright, maturing late summer.
Twig: Slender, green and sometimes pubescent, with a spicy-sweet aroma when broken; buds are 1/4 inch long and green; twigs from young plants displayed at a uniform 60 degree angle from main stem.
Bark: Brown, with cinnamon-brown inner bark, becoming coarsely ridged and furrowed; when cut the spicy aroma is obvious.
Form: Small to medium sized tree up to 60 feet tall with an irregular often twisted trunk and main branches, usually flat-topped crown; root suckering may result in thickets.
Looks like: sourwood
- common persimmon
| Additional Range Information:
Sassafras albidum is native to North America.
Range may be expanded by planting.
See states reporting sassafras.
Fall Color Wood
| External Links:
Silvics of North America
USDA Plants Database
|© Copyright 2015, Virginia Tech|
Dept. of Forest Resources
and Environmental Conservation,
all rights reserved.
Photos and text by: John Seiler,
Edward Jensen, Alex Niemiera,
and John Peterson