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Margene M. Griggs
Sassafras (Sassafras albidum), sometimes called white sassafras, is a medium-sized, moderately fast growing, aromatic tree with three distinctive leaf shapes: entire, mittenshaped, and threelobed. Little more than a shrub in the north, sassafras grows largest in the Great Smoky Mountains on moist welldrained sandy loams in open woodlands. It frequently pioneers old fields where it is important to wildlife as a browse plant, often in thickets formed by underground runners from parent trees. The soft, brittle, lightweight wood is of limited commercial value, but oil of sassafras is extracted from root bark for the perfume industry.