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Sassafras albidum (Nutt.) Nees

Brief Summary

    Sassafras albidum: Brief Summary
    provided by wikipedia

    Sassafras albidum (sassafras, white sassafras, red sassafras, or silky sassafras) is a species of Sassafras native to eastern North America, from southern Maine and southern Ontario west to Iowa, and south to central Florida and eastern Texas. It occurs throughout the eastern deciduous forest habitat type, at altitudes of sea level up to 1,500 m (5000 feet). It formerly also occurred in southern Wisconsin, but is extirpated there as a native tree.

    Brief Summary
    provided by Silvics of North America
    Lauraceae -- Laurel family

    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.

Comprehensive Description

    Sassafras albidum
    provided by wikipedia

    Sassafras albidum (sassafras, white sassafras, red sassafras, or silky sassafras) is a species of Sassafras native to eastern North America, from southern Maine and southern Ontario west to Iowa, and south to central Florida and eastern Texas. It occurs throughout the eastern deciduous forest habitat type, at altitudes of sea level up to 1,500 m (5000 feet).[2][3][4] It formerly also occurred in southern Wisconsin, but is extirpated there as a native tree.[5]


    Sassafras albidum is a medium-sized deciduous tree growing to 15–20 m (49–66 ft) tall, with a canopy up to 12 m (39 ft) wide,[6] with a trunk up to 60 cm (24 in) in diameter, and a crown with many slender sympodial branches.[7][8][9] The bark on trunk of mature trees is thick, dark red-brown, and deeply furrowed. The shoots are bright yellow green at first with mucilaginous bark, turning reddish brown, and in two or three years begin to show shallow fissures. The leaves are alternate, green to yellow-green, ovate or obovate, 10–16 cm (4-6.4 inches) long and 5–10 cm (2-4 inches) broad with a short, slender, slightly grooved petiole. They come in three different shapes, all of which can be on the same branch; three-lobed leaves, unlobed elliptical leaves, and two-lobed leaves; rarely, there can be more than three lobes. In fall, they turn to shades of yellow, tinged with red. The flowers are produced in loose, drooping, few-flowered racemes up to 5 cm (2.0 in) long in early spring shortly before the leaves appear; they are yellow to greenish-yellow, with five or six tepals. It is usually dioecious, with male and female flowers on separate trees; male flowers have nine stamens, female flowers with six staminodes (aborted stamens) and a 2–3 mm style on a superior ovary. Pollination is by insects. The fruit is a dark blue-black drupe 1 cm (0.39 in) long containing a single seed, borne on a red fleshy club-shaped pedicel 2 cm (0.79 in) long; it is ripe in late summer, with the seeds dispersed by birds. The cotyledons are thick and fleshy. All parts of the plant are aromatic and spicy. The roots are thick and fleshy, and frequently produce root sprouts which can develop into new trees.[3][4][10][11][12]


    It prefers rich, well-drained sandy loam with a pH of 6-7, but will grow in any loose, moist soil. Seedlings will tolerate shade, but saplings and older trees demand full sunlight for good growth; in forests it typically regenerates in gaps created by windblow. Growth is rapid, particularly with root sprouts, which can reach 1.2 m (4 feet) in the first year and 4.5 m (15 feet)in 4 years. Root sprouts often result in dense thickets, and a single tree, if allowed to spread unrestrained, will soon be surrounded by a sizable clonal colony, as its stoloniferous roots extend in every direction and send up multitudes of shoots.[3][4][11]

    In terms of its role in the community, S. albidum is a host plant for the caterpillar of the promethea silkmoth, Callosamia promethea.[13]

    Laurel wilt

    Laurel wilt is a highly destructive disease initiated when the invasive flying redbay ambrosia beetle (Xyleborus glabratus) introduces its highly virulent fungal symbiont (Raffaelea lauricola) into the sapwood of Lauraceae host shrubs or trees. Sassafras's volatile terpenoids may attract X. glabratus.[14] Sassafras is susceptible to laurel wilt and capable of supporting broods of X. glabratus. Underground transmission of the pathogen through roots and stolons of Sassafras without evidence of X. glabratus attack is suggested. Studies examining the insect's cold tolerance showed that X. glabratus may be able to move to colder northern areas where sassafras would be the main host. The exotic Asian insect is spreading the epidemic from the Everglades through the Carolinas in perhaps less than 15 years by the end of 2014.[15]

    Humans and Sassafras albidum

    Parc Oberthür, Rennes

    All parts of the Sassafras albidum plant have been used for human purposes, including stems, leaves, bark, wood, roots, fruit, and flowers. Sassafras albidum, while native to North America, is significant to the economic, medical, and cultural history of both Europe and North America. In North America, it has particular culinary significance, being featured in distinct national foods such as traditional root beer, filé powder, and Louisiana Creole cuisine. Sassafras albidum was an important plant to many Native Americans of the southeastern United States and was used for many purposes, including culinary and medicinal purposes, before the European colonization of North America. Its significance for Native Americans is also magnified, as the European quest for sassafras as a commodity for export brought Europeans into closer contact with Native Americans during the early years of European settlement in the 16th and 17th centuries, in Florida, Virginia, and parts of the Northeast.

    Sassafras albidum and indigenous peoples of the United States

    Sassafras with all 3 lobe variations seen.

    Sassafras albidum was a well-used plant by Native Americans in the southeastern United States prior to the European colonization. The Choctaw word for sassafras is "Kombu." It was known as "Winauk" in Delaware and Virginia and is called "Pauane" by the Timuca.

    Some Native American tribes used the leaves of sassafras to treat wounds by rubbing the leaves directly into a wound, and used different parts of the plant for many medicinal purposes such as treating acne, urinary disorders, and sicknesses that increased body temperature, such as high fevers. They also used the bark as a dye, and as a flavoring.[16]

    Sassafras wood was also used by Native Americans in the southeastern United States as a fire-starter because of the flammability of its natural oils.[17]

    In cooking, sassafras was used by some Native Americans to flavor bear fat, and to cure meats.[18] Sassafras is still used today to cure meats.[19] Use of filé powder by the Choctaw in the Southern United States in cooking is linked to the development of gumbo, a signature dish of Louisiana Creole cuisine.[20]

    Culinary use by Europeans in North America, and legislation

    Also see root beer and filé powder.

    Sassafras albidum is used primarily in the United States as the key ingredient in home brewed root beer and as a thickener and flavouring in traditional Louisiana Creole gumbo.

    Filé powder, also called gumbo filé, for its use in making gumbo, is a spicy herb made from the dried and ground leaves of the sassafras tree. It was traditionally used by Native Americans in the Southern United States, and was adopted into Louisiana Creole cuisine. Use of Filé powder by the Choctaw in the Southern United States in cooking is linked to the development of gumbo, the signature dish of Louisiana Creole cuisine that features ground sassafras leaves.[20]

    Sassafras roots are used to make traditional root beer, although they were banned for commercially mass-produced foods and drugs by the FDA in 1960.[21] Laboratory animals that were given oral doses of sassafras tea or sassafras oil that contained large doses of safrole developed permanent liver damage or various types of cancer.[21] In humans, liver damage can take years to develop and it may not have obvious signs. Along with commercially available Sarsaparilla, sassafras remains an ingredient in use among hobby or microbrew enthusiasts. While sassafras is no longer used in commercially produced root beer and is sometimes substituted with artificial flavors, natural extracts with the safrole distilled and removed are available.[22][23] Most commercial root beers have replaced the sassafras extract with methyl salicylate, the ester found in wintergreen and black birch (Betula lenta) bark.

    Sassafras tea was also banned in the United States in 1977, but the ban was lifted with the passage of the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act in 1994.[21][24][25]

    Safrole oil, aromatic uses, MDMA

    See Safrole.

    S. albidum is a host plant for the spicebush swallowtail.

    Safrole distilled from Sassafras albidum has been used as a natural insect or pest deterrent.[19] Godfrey's Cordial, as well as other tonics given to children that consisted of opiates, used sassafras to disguise other strong smells and odours associated with the tonics. It was also used as an additional flavouring to mask the strong odours of homemade liquor in the United States.[26]

    Commercial "sassafras oil" generally is a byproduct of camphor production in Asia or comes from related trees in Brazil. Safrole is a precursor for the manufacture of the drug MDMA, as well as the drug MDA (3-4 methylenedioxyamphetamine) and as such, its transport is monitored internationally.

    Chemical structure of safrole, a constituent of sassafras essential oil

    The wood is dull orange brown, hard, and durable in contact with the soil; it was used in the past for posts and rails, small boats and ox-yokes, though scarcity and small size limits current use. Some is still used for making furniture.[27]

    History of commercial use of the Sassafras albidum plant

    Europeans were first introduced to sassafras, along with other plants such as cranberries, tobacco, and North American ginseng, when they arrived in North America.[18][28]

    The aromatic smell of sassafras was described by early European settlers arriving in North America. According to one legend, Christopher Columbus found North America because he could smell the scent of sassafras.[26] As early as the 1560s, French visitors to North America discovered the medicinal qualities of sassafras, which was also exploited by the Spanish who arrived in Florida.[29] English settlers at Roanoke reported surviving on boiled sassafras leaves and dog meat during times of starvation.[30]

    Upon the arrival of the English on the Eastern coast of North America, sassafras trees were reported as plentiful. Sassafras was sold in England and in continental Europe, where it was sold as a dark beverage called "saloop" that had medicinal qualities and used as a medicinal cure for a variety of ailments. The discovery of sassafras occurred at the same time as a severe syphilis outbreak in Europe, when little about this terrible disease was understood, and sassafras was touted as a cure.[citation needed] Sir Francis Drake was one of the earliest to bring sassafras to England in 1586,[citation needed] and Sir Walter Raleigh was the first to export sassafras as a commodity in 1602.[citation needed] Sassafras became a major export commodity to England and other areas of Europe, as a medicinal root used to treat ague (fevers) and sexually transmitted diseases such as syphilis and gonorrhea, and as wood prized for its beauty and durability.[31][32] Exploration for sassafras was the catalyst for the 1603 commercial expedition from Bristol of Captain Martin Pring to the coasts of present-day Maine, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts. During a brief period in the early 17th century, sassafras was the second-largest export from the British colonies in North America behind tobacco.[33]

    Since the bark was the most commercially valued part of the sassafras plant due to large concentrations of the aromatic safrole oil, commercially valuable sassafras could only be gathered from each tree once. This meant that as significant amounts of sassafras bark was gathered, supplies quickly diminished and sassafras become more difficult to find. For example, while one of the earliest shipments of sassafras in 1602 weighed as much as a ton, by 1626, English colonists failed to meet their 30-pound quota. The gathering of sassafras bark brought European settlers and Native Americans into contact sometimes dangerous to both groups.[34] Sassafras was such a desired commodity in England, that its importation was included in the Charter of the Colony of Virginia in 1610.[35]

    Through modern times the sassafras plant, both wild and cultivated, has been harvested for the extraction of safrole, which is used in a variety of commercial products as well as in the manufacture of illegal drugs like MDMA; yet, sassafras plants in China and Brazil are more commonly used for these purposes than North American Sassafras albidum.[36]

    See also


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      Young plant with 3 leaf varieties

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      Autumn foliage


    1. ^ The Plant List, Sassafras albidum
    2. ^ Flora of North America: Sassafras albidum
    3. ^ a b c U.S. Forest Service: Sassafras albidum (pdf file)
    4. ^ a b c Hope College, Michigan: Sassafras albidum
    5. ^ Griggs, Margene M. (1990). "Sassafras albidum". In Burns, Russell M.; Honkala, Barbara H. Hardwoods. Silvics of North America. Washington, D.C.: United States Forest Service (USFS), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). 2 – via Southern Research Station (www.srs.fs.fed.us)..mw-parser-output cite.citation{font-style:inherit}.mw-parser-output q{quotes:"""""'"'"}.mw-parser-output code.cs1-code{color:inherit;background:inherit;border:inherit;padding:inherit}.mw-parser-output .cs1-lock-free a{background:url("//upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/6/65/Lock-green.svg/9px-Lock-green.svg.png")no-repeat;background-position:right .1em center}.mw-parser-output .cs1-lock-limited a,.mw-parser-output .cs1-lock-registration a{background:url("//upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/d/d6/Lock-gray-alt-2.svg/9px-Lock-gray-alt-2.svg.png")no-repeat;background-position:right .1em center}.mw-parser-output .cs1-lock-subscription a{background:url("//upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/a/aa/Lock-red-alt-2.svg/9px-Lock-red-alt-2.svg.png")no-repeat;background-position:right .1em center}.mw-parser-output .cs1-subscription,.mw-parser-output .cs1-registration{color:#555}.mw-parser-output .cs1-subscription span,.mw-parser-output .cs1-registration span{border-bottom:1px dotted;cursor:help}.mw-parser-output .cs1-hidden-error{display:none;font-size:100%}.mw-parser-output .cs1-visible-error{font-size:100%}.mw-parser-output .cs1-subscription,.mw-parser-output .cs1-registration,.mw-parser-output .cs1-format{font-size:95%}.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-left,.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-wl-left{padding-left:0.2em}.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-right,.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-wl-right{padding-right:0.2em}
    6. ^ "Sassafras albidum " (PDF). University of Florida Horticulture. US Forest Service - Department of Agriculture. Retrieved 18 November 2016.
    7. ^ Although some sources give 30 or 35 meters as the maximum height, as of 1982 the US champion is only 76 feet (23 meters) tall
    8. ^ "Sassafras albidum " (PDF). Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service.
    9. ^ Whit Bronaugh (May–June 1994). "The biggest sassafras". American Forests.
    10. ^ Flora of North America: Sassafras
    11. ^ a b Keeler, H. L. (1900). Our Native Trees and How to Identify Them. Charles Scriber's Sons, New York.
    12. ^ Nees von Esenbeck, Christian Gottfried Daniel. 1836. Systema Laurinarum 490.
    13. ^ "Promethea silkmoth Callosamia promethea (Drury, 1773) | Butterflies and Moths of North America". www.butterfliesandmoths.org. Retrieved 2017-11-14.
    14. ^ Kendra, PE; Montgomery, WS; Niogret, J; Pruett, GE; Mayfield, AE; MacKenzie, M; Deyrup, MA; Bauchan, GR; Ploetz, RC; Epsky, ND (2014). "North American Lauraceae: terpenoid emissions, relative attraction and boring preferences of redbay ambrosia beetle, Xyleborus glabratus (coleoptera: curculionidae: scolytinae)". PLoS ONE. 9: e102086. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0102086. PMC 4090202. PMID 25007073.
    15. ^ <http://www.ars.usda.gov/SP2UserFiles/Place/00000000/opmp/Redbay%20Laurel%20Wilt%20Recovery%20Plan%20January%202015.pdf> (search--resistan)
    16. ^ Duke, James (December 15, 2000). The Green Pharmacy Herbal Handbook: Your Comprehensive Reference to the Best Herbs for Healing. Rodale Books. p. 195. ISBN 978-1579541842.
    17. ^ Bartram, William (December 1, 2002). William Bartram on the Southeastern Indians (Indians of the Southeast). University of Nebraska Press. p. 270. ISBN 978-0803262058.
    18. ^ a b Weatherford, Jack (September 15, 1992). Native Roots: How the Indians Enriched America. Ballantine Books. p. 52. ISBN 978-0449907139.
    19. ^ a b Duke, James (September 27, 2002). CRC Handbook of Medicinal Spices. CRC Press. p. 274. ISBN 978-0849312793.
    20. ^ a b Nobles, Cynthia Lejeune (2009), "Gumbo", in Tucker, Susan; Starr, S. Frederick, New Orleans Cuisine: Fourteen Signature Dishes and Their Histories, University Press of Mississippi, p. 110, ISBN 978-1-60473-127-9
    21. ^ a b c Dietz, B; Bolton, Jl (Apr 2007). "Botanical Dietary Supplements Gone Bad". Chemical research in toxicology. 20 (4): 586–90. doi:10.1021/tx7000527. ISSN 0893-228X. PMC 2504026. PMID 17362034.
    22. ^ http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cdrh/cfdocs/cfCFR/CFRSearch.cfm?fr=172.580
    23. ^ Higgins, Nadia (August 1, 2013). Fun Food Inventions (Awesome Inventions You Use Every Day). 21st Century. p. 30. ISBN 978-1467710916.
    24. ^ Kwan, D; Hirschkorn, K; Boon, H (Sep 2006). "U.S. and Canadian pharmacists' attitudes, knowledge, and professional practice behaviors toward dietary supplements: a systematic review" (Free full text). BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 6: 31. doi:10.1186/1472-6882-6-31. PMC 1586212. PMID 16984649.
    25. ^ Barceloux, Donald (March 7, 2012). Medical Toxicology of Natural Substances: Foods, Fungi, Medicinal Herbs, Plants, and Venomous Animals. Wiley. ASIN B007KGA15Q.
    26. ^ a b Small, Ernest (September 23, 2013). North American Cornucopia: Top 100 Indigenous Food Plants. CRC Press. p. 606. ISBN 978-1466585928.
    27. ^ Missouriplants: Sassafras albidum
    28. ^ Sauer, Jonathan (1976). "Changing Perception and Exploitation of New World Plants in Europe, 1492-1800". In Fredi, Chiapelli. First Images of America: the Impact of the New World on the Old. University of California Press. ISBN 978-0520030107.
    29. ^ Quinn, David (January 1, 1985). Set Fair for Roanoke: Voyages and Colonies, 1584-1606. The University of North Carolina Press. p. 175. ISBN 978-0807841235.
    30. ^ Stick, David (November 1, 1983). Roanoke Island: The Beginnings of English America. The University of North Carolina Press. p. 127. ISBN 978-0807841105.
    31. ^ Horwitz, Tony (2008). A Voyage Long and Strange: Rediscovering the New World. Henry Holt and Co. p. 6. ISBN 978-0-8050-7603-5.
    32. ^ Tiffany Leptuck, "Medical Attributes of 'Sassafras albidum' - Sassafras"], Kenneth M. Klemow, Ph.D., Wilkes-Barre University, 2003
    33. ^ Martin Pring, "The Voyage of Martin Pring, 1603", Summary of his life and expeditions at American Journeys website, 2012, Wisconsin Historical Society
    34. ^ Dugan, Holly (September 14, 2011). The Ephemeral History of Perfume: Scent and Sense in Early Modern England. Johns Hopkins University Press. pp. 83–95. ISBN 978-1421402345.
    35. ^ Bruce, Phillip. Economic History of Virginia in the Seventeenth Century. 2. Nabu Press. p. 613. ISBN 978-1271504855.
    36. ^ Blickman, Tom (February 3, 2009). "Harvesting Trees". Transational Institute. Transnational Institute. Retrieved April 4, 2015.


    provided by Fire Effects Information System Plants
    Sassafras occurs from southwestern Maine west to extreme southern
    Ontario and central Michigan; southwest to Illinois, Missouri, eastern
    Oklahoma, and eastern Texas; and east to central Florida.  It is extinct
    in southeastern Wisconsin, but its range is extending into northern
    Illinois [41].
    provided by eFloras
    Ont.; Ala., Ark., Conn., Del., D.C., Fla., Ga., Ill., Ind., Iowa, Kans., Ky., La., Maine, Md., Mass., Mich., Miss., Mo., N.H., N.J., N.Y., N.C., Ohio, Okla., Pa., R.I., S.C., Tenn., Tex., Vt., Va., W.Va.
    Occurrence in North America
    provided by Fire Effects Information System Plants
         AL  AR  CT  DE  FL  GA  IL  IN  IA  KS
         KY  LA  ME  MD  MA  MI  MS  MO  NH  NJ
         NY  NC  OH  OK  PA  RI  SC  TN  TX  VT
         VA  WV
    provided by Silvics of North America
    Sassafras is native from southwestern Maine west to New York, extreme southern Ontario, and central Michigan; southwest in Illinois, extreme southeastern Iowa, Missouri, southeastern Kansas, eastern Oklahoma, and eastern Texas; and east to central Florida (8). It is now extinct in southeastern Wisconsin but is extending its range into northern Illinois (5).

    -The native range of sassafras


    provided by eFloras
    Infraspecific taxa have been based on amount of pubescence of leaves and color of young twigs; these taxa are not recognized here.

    Traditionally, "sassafras tea" was prepared by steeping the bark of the roots (D. S. Correll and M. C. Johnston 1970). It was once considered a relatively pleasant drink. Several indigenous populations used sassafras twigs as chewing sticks, and sassafras root is used occasionally in commercial dental poultices. Sassafras root was one of the ingredients of root beer; this use has now been banned.

    Safrole ( p -allylyn ethylenediozybenzene) is found as a minor component in many Lauraceae and as the principal component (80%) of sassafras oil. It is suspected of causing contact dermatitis and of being hallucinogenic, especially in large doses; it is also considered to be both carcinogenic and hepatotoxic (W. H. Lewis and M. P. F. Elvin-Lewis 1977).

    provided by Fire Effects Information System Plants
    More info for the terms: drupe, fruit, shrub, tree

    Sassafras is a native, deciduous, aromatic tree or large shrub, with a
    flattened, oblong crown [41,83].  On the best sites, height ranges up to
    98 feet (30 m) [41].  In the northern parts of its range, sassafras
    tends to be shrubby, especially on dry, sandy sites, and reaches a
    maximum of 40 feet (12 m) [49].  The bark of older stems is deeply
    furrowed, or irregularly broken into broad, flat ridges [38,83].  The
    variety of leaf shapes to be found on one individual is a distinctive
    trait of the species.  Leaves can be entire, one-lobed, or two-lobed.
    The fruit is a drupe [41].  The root system is shallow, with prominent
    lateral roots.  Root depth ranges from 6 to 20 inches (15-50 cm).
    provided by eFloras
    Trees , to 35 m. Twigs pale green with darker olive mottling, terete. Leaf blade ovate to elliptic, unlobed or 2-3-lobed (rarely more), 10-16 × 5-10 cm, apex obtuse to acute. Inflorescences to 5 cm, silky-pubescent; floral bract to 1 cm. Flowers: fragrant (sweet, lemony), glabrous; tepals greenish yellow. Staminate flowers: inner 3 stamens with 2 conspicuously stalked glands near base of filament, filament slender; pistillodes usually absent (sometimes present in terminal flower of inflorescence). Pistillate flowers: staminodes 6; style slender, 2-3 mm; stigma capitate. Drupe ca. 1 cm; pedicel reddish, club-shaped, ± fleshy. 2 n = 48.

Diagnostic Description

    provided by eFloras
    Laurus albida Nuttall, Gen. N. Amer. Pl. 1: 259. 1818; L. sassafras Linnaeus; Sassafras albidum var. molle (Rafinesque) Fernald; S. officinalis T. Nees ex C. H. Ebermaier; S. sassafras (Linnaeus) H. Karsten; S. variifolium (Salisbury) Kuntze


    provided by Silvics of North America
    Average annual rainfall varies from 760 to 1400 mm (30 to 55 in) within the humid range of sassafras. Of this, 640 to 760 mm (25 to 30 in) occur from April to August, the effective growing season. At the northern limits of the range, the average annual snowfall is between 76 to 102 cm (30 to 40 in), while in the southern limits there may be only 2.5 cm (1 in) or less. The average frost-free period is from 160 to 300 days. In January average temperatures are -7° C (20° F) in the north and 13° C (55° F) in the south; the average July temperatures vary from 21° to 27° C (70° to 80° F).

    provided by eFloras
    Habitat varied, forests, woodlands, fencerows, old fields (sometimes aggressively colonial), and disturbed areas; 0-1500m.
    Habitat characteristics
    provided by Fire Effects Information System Plants
    Sassafras occurs on nearly all soil types within its range, but is best
    developed on moist, well-drained sandy loams in open woodlands [41].
    Optimum soil pH ranges from 6.0 to 7.0, but sassafras also occurs on
    acid sands in eastern Texas [41,75].  It is intolerant of poorly drained
    soils [32].  Sassafras occurs along fence rows and on dry ridges and
    upper slopes, particularly following fire [41].  Sassafras occurs at
    elevations ranging from Mississippi River bottomlands up to 4,000 feet
    (1,220 m) in the southern Appalachian Mountains, occasionally up to
    4,900 feet (1,500 m) [24,41].
    Habitat: Cover Types
    provided by Fire Effects Information System Plants
    More info on this topic.

    This species is known to occur in association with the following cover types (as classified by the Society of American Foresters):

    More info for the term: hardwood

        14  Northern pin oak
        15  Red pine
        16  Aspen
        20  White pine - northern red oak - red maple
        21  Eastern white pine
        40  Post oak - blackjack oak
        43  Bear oak
        44  Chestnut oak
        45  Pitch pine
        46  Eastern redcedar
        50  Black locust
        52  White oak - black oak - northern red oak
        53  White oak
        55  Northern red oak
        57  Yellow-poplar
        60  Beech - sugar maple
        61  River birch - sycamore
        64  Sassafras - persimmon
        70  Longleaf pine
        71  Longleaf pine - scrub oak
        75  Shortleaf pine
        76  Shortleaf pine - oak
        78  Virginia pine - oak
        79  Virginia pine
        80  Loblolly pine - shortleaf pine
        81  Loblolly pine
        83  Longleaf pine - slash pine
        84  Slash pine
        85  Slash pine - hardwood
        88  Willow oak - water oak - diamondleaf oak
       108  Red maple
       110  Black oak
    Habitat: Ecosystem
    provided by Fire Effects Information System Plants
    More info on this topic.

    This species is known to occur in the following ecosystem types (as named by the U.S. Forest Service in their Forest and Range Ecosystem [FRES] Type classification):

       FRES10  White - red - jack pine
       FRES12  Longleaf - slash pine
       FRES13  Loblolly - shortleaf pine
       FRES14  Oak - pine
       FRES15  Oak - hickory
       FRES16  Oak - gum - cypress
       FRES17  Elm - ash - cottonwood
       FRES18  Maple - beech - birch
       FRES19  Aspen - birch
    Habitat: Plant Associations
    provided by Fire Effects Information System Plants
    More info on this topic.

    This species is known to occur in association with the following plant community types (as classified by Küchler 1964):

    More info for the term: forest

       K083  Cedar glades
       K089  Black Belt
       K100  Oak - hickory forest
       K101  Elm - ash forest
       K104  Appalachian oak forest
       K106  Northern hardwoods
       K110  Northeastern oak - pine forest
       K111  Oak - hickory - pine forest
       K112  Southern mixed forest
    Key Plant Community Associations
    provided by Fire Effects Information System Plants
    More info for the terms: cover, cover type, tree

    The sassafras-persimmon (Diospyros virginiana) cover type is a
    successional type common on abandoned farmlands throughout its range.
    Sassafras is a common component of the bear oak (Quercus ilicifolia)
    type, which is a scrub type on dry sites along the Coastal Plain [41].
    In dry pine-oak forests, sassafras sprouts prolifically and is a
    shrub-layer dominant [72].  It achieves short-term dominance by producing
    extensive thickets where few other woody plants can establish [32].
    In the northern parts of its range, sassafras occurs in the understory
    of open stands of aspen (Populus spp.) and in northern pin oak (Q.
    ellipsoidalis) stands [41].

    Common tree associates of sassafras not previously mentioned include
    sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua), flowering dogwood (Cornus florida),
    elms (Ulmus spp.), hickories (Carya spp.), and American beech (Fagus
    grandifolia).  Minor associates include American hornbeam (Carpinus
    caroliniana), eastern hophornbeam (Ostrya virginiana), and pawpaw
    (Asimina triloba).  On poor sites, particularly in the Appalachian
    Mountains, sassafras is frequently associated with black locust (Robinia
    pseudoacacia), and sourwood (Oxydendron arboreum).  In old fields with
    deep soils, sassafras commonly grows with elms, ashes (Fraxinus spp.),
    sugar maple (Acer saccharum), yellow-poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera), and
    oaks [41].

    Sassafras is listed as a subdominant on subxeric and submesic sites in
    the following classification:  Landscape ecosystem classification for
    South Carolina [51].
    Soils and Topography
    provided by Silvics of North America
    Sassafras can be found on virtually all soil types within its range. It grows best in open woods on moist, well-drained, sandy loam soils, but is a pioneer species on abandoned fields, along fence rows, and on dry ridges and upper slopes, especially following fire. In the South Atlantic and Gulf Coast States where sites are predominately sandy soils, mature sassafras seldom exceeds sapling size. On the Lake Michigan dunes of Indiana, it grows on pure, shifting sand (5). It is also found on poor gravelly soils and clay loams. Sassafras is most commonly found growing on soils of the orders Entisols, Alfisols, and Ultisols. Optimum soil pH is 6.0 to 7.0 (14). The species is found at elevations varying from welldrained Mississippi River bottom lands and loessial bluffs to 1220 m (4,000 ft) in the southern Appalachian Mountains (10,11).


    Associated Forest Cover
    provided by Silvics of North America
    Sassafras is included in only two forest cover types; however, scattered trees of the species are found in many eastern forest types (13). Sassafras-Persimmon (Society of American Foresters Type 64) is a temporary type common on abandoned farmlands throughout the range of sassafras, especially in the lower Midwest and, to a limited extent, the mid-Atlantic States. It is also present as successional stands on old fields in the Southeastern States where pine usually predominates. Sassafras is a minor component in Bear Oak (Type 43), a scrub type appearing on dry sites along the Coastal Plain from New England southward to New Jersey, and from northwestern New Jersey southward to scattered localities in western Virginia and eastern West Virginia. It is also prevalent in eastern and central Pennsylvania.

    Additional common associated tree species are sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua), flowering dogwood (Cornus florida), elms (Ulmus spp.), eastern redcedar (Juniperus virginiana), hickories (Carya spp.), and American beech (Fagus grandifolia). In fields with deeper soils it grows with elms, ashes (Fraxinus spp.), sugar maple (Acer saccharum), yellow-poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera), and oaks (Quercus spp.).

    Noteworthy minor tree associates are American hornbeam (Carpinus caroliniana), eastern hophornbeam (Ostrya uirginiana), and pawpaw (Asimina triloba). On poorer sites, particularly in the Appalachian Mountains, it is frequently associated with black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia), red maple (Acer rubrum), sourwood (Oxydendrum arboreum), and several oaks. At the northern edge of its range, sassafras is found in the understory of aspen (Populus spp.) and northern pin oak Quercus ellipsoidalis) stands (8).

Diseases and Parasites

    Damaging Agents
    provided by Silvics of North America
    Sassafras is highly susceptible to fire damage at any age. Light fires kill reproduction and small saplings, and heavier burns injure large trees and provide entry for pathogens. Sassafras may die if not well protected from extremes of winter weather.

    Foliage diseases are primarily the main damaging agents to sassafras. Actinopelte dryina is largely a southern fungus severely blighting the leaves. Mycosphaerella sassafras is one of the most widely occurring leaf spots of sassafras. A Nectria canker on trunks is fairly common in the southern Appalachian region. Remarkably, few reports of wood-rot fungi on sassafras have appeared in the literature (6). Mistletoe (Phoradendron flavescens) has been reported (8).

    At least 15 species of insects attack sassafras, including root borers, leaf feeders, and sucking insects. Except for small local outbreaks, damage is relatively unimportant. From New York to Florida, the larvae of a wood-boring weevil (Apteromechus ferratus) kills trees up to 25 cm (10 in) in diameter. Two leaf feeders, the gypsy moth (Lymantria dispar) and looper (Epimecis hortaria), are found on sassafras in the Northeastern United States and in the Atlantic States, respectively. Sassafras is probably one of the favorite forest tree foods of the Japanese beetle (Popillia japonica) (8).

General Ecology

    Broad-scale Impacts of Plant Response to Fire
    provided by Fire Effects Information System Plants
    Fire Ecology
    provided by Fire Effects Information System Plants
    More info for the terms: fire frequency, fire interval, fire regime, frequency, mean fire interval, severity, top-kill

    Sassafras is moderately resistant to fire damage to aboveground growth.
    It is also highly resilient to such damage; sassafras sprouts vigorously
    following top-kill, even after repeated fires [54].  In Indiana,
    sassafras occurs in black oak (Quercus velutina) stands with a mean fire
    interval of 11.1 years [47].  Sassafras establishment on these sites
    appears to be related to the frequency and severity of fire.  Sassafras
    did not occur on sites which had burned more often (mean fire interval
    of 5.2 years).  The stands with longer fire-free intervals burned more
    severely than those with shorter intervals.  The more severe disturbance
    probably created more favorable conditions for sassafras seedling
    establishment [48].

    An increase in the frequency of sassafras in New Jersey forests since
    European settlement has been attributed, at least in part, to an
    increase in fire frequency [73].

    The bear oak type, in which sassafras frequently occurs, is a product of
    periodic fire and droughty soils [44].  Sassafras also occurs in the
    Table Mountain pine-pitch pine (Pinus rigida) type, another fire-adapted
    community [42].

    Sassafras bark is less resistant to heat than chestnut oak (Quercus
    prinus), white oak (Q. alba), and northern red oak (Q. rubra); equally
    as resistant as hickory and red maple (Acer rubrum); and more resistant
    than witchhazel (Hamamelis virginiana), fire cherry (Prunus
    pensylvanica), serviceberry (Amelanchier spp.), and bear oak [20].

    Find fire regime information for the plant communities in which this
    species may occur by entering the species name in the FEIS home page under
    "Find FIRE REGIMES".
    Fire Management Considerations
    provided by Fire Effects Information System Plants
    More info for the terms: fruit, fuel, hardwood, prescribed fire

    Prescribed fire for hardwood control in southern pine stands results in
    the predominance of American beautyberry (Callicarpa americana) and
    sassafras.  This predominance is a useful indicator of temporary control
    over other hardwoods that usually occupy later seres and are more
    serious competitors of pine.  Prescribed fire at 8- to 12-year intervals
    can control sprout growth or new plant invasion [74].

    In South Carolina, a prescribed January fire in loblolly pine increased
    sassafras browse quality and availability.  Prior to the fire, sassafras
    stems were out of reach of white-tailed deer [21].  The protein content
    of sassafras leaves and twigs was highest in June following prescribed
    fire.  By September, the protein content of all browse plants was
    similar on burned and unburned sites [23].  After logging and
    prescribed burning in an oak-pine stand in South Carolina, white-tailed
    deer browsed sassafras heavily [27].

    Frequent prescribed fire can improve spring and summer forage quality in
    the southern pine forests, where sassafras often occurs.

    Prescribed fire on utility rights-of-way does not control sassafras [5].
    Vigorous root sprouting maintains sassafras even after repeated fires.
    Annual prescribed fire, however, may have a detrimental effect on
    sassafras fruit production [50].  On some sites, repeated annual fires
    may eventually eliminate sassafras [19,26,40].

    A regression equation to calculate the relationship of sassafras bark
    thickness to stem diameter has been reported [46].  An equation for
    predicting standing sassafras dry weight (and therefore fuel loading)
    from sassafras basal diameter has also been reported [70].
    Growth Form (according to Raunkiær Life-form classification)
    provided by Fire Effects Information System Plants
    More info on this topic.

    More info for the term: phanerophyte

    Immediate Effect of Fire
    provided by Fire Effects Information System Plants
    More info for the terms: low-severity fire, prescribed fire

    Low-severity fires kill seedlings and small saplings.  Moderate- and
    high-severity fires injure mature trees, providing entry for pathogens
    [41,75].  In oak savanna in Indiana, sassafras showed significantly less
    susceptibility to low-severity fire than other species [4].  Sassafras
    exhibited 21 percent mortality of stems after prescribed fire in western
    Tennessee.  This was the lowest mortality of all hardwoods present.
    Season of burning did not affect susceptibility [17].
    Life Form
    provided by Fire Effects Information System Plants
    More info for the terms: shrub, tree

    Tree, Shrub
    Plant Response to Fire
    provided by Fire Effects Information System Plants
    More info for the terms: cover, density, frequency, low-severity fire, prescribed fire, shrub, wildfire

    Sassafras occurs on charcoal hearths, which are patches of ground that
    were used for charcoal making.  These areas are characterized by very
    poor soil structure.  Sassafras on these sites shows poor growth [10].

    The effects of annual and 5-year interval prescribed burning over a
    27-year period in Tennessee has been reported.  After 6 years, sassafras
    density was higher on annually burned plots than on unburned plots.  The
    highest sassafras density occurred on the 5-year interval plots [80].
    Sassafras gradually decreased with increasing canopy closure on the
    5-year interval plots.  By year 27, however, sassafras was eliminated
    from the annually burned plots.  Sassafras was also eliminated from
    unburned plots; these plots developed closed canopies which are
    unfavorable to sassafras [19].

    A large number of root sprouts occurred after sapling and small diameter
    sassafras trees were top-killed by fire in an Illinois post oak (Quercus
    stellata) stand [12].  Sprout production by top-killed sassafras was
    stimulated by prescribed fire, and greatly increased its cover in the
    shrub layer [13].

    In Illinois, the number of small sassafras stems increased after a
    single winter prescribed fire from 9 percent frequency to 36 percent
    frequency.  This increase was largely due to root sprouting by
    top-killed plants.  The number of sassafras seedlings also increased
    after the same fire [3].  In Virginia, in Table Mountain pine stands
    that experienced a high-severity wildfire (98 percent top-kill),
    sassafras increased from 0 to 12.1 in relative importance in 1 year.
    Sassafras also increased on plots experiencing low-severity fire, but the
    difference in importance value was not as great [42].

    In the absence of fire or other disturbances, sassafras frequency
    decreases with increasing canopy closure; the number of new sassafras
    seedlings also decreases with canopy closure [2,3].

    Fire does not always lead to increased sassafras.  Grelen [40] reported
    sassafras occurrence on unburned, young slash pine (Pinus elliottii)
    plots but not on plots burned annually, biennially, or triennially in
    March or May over the course of 12 years.  In Florida, sassafras was
    found on unburned, 15-year-old old fields, but not on oldfield plots
    that were burned annually in February or March for 15 years [26].
    Post-fire Regeneration
    provided by Fire Effects Information System Plants
    More info for the terms: crown residual colonizer, ground residual colonizer, root sucker, tree

       Tree with adventitious-bud root crown/soboliferous species root sucker
       Ground residual colonizer (on-site, initial community)
       Initial-offsite colonizer (off-site, initial community)
       Crown residual colonizer (on-site, initial community)
    Reaction to Competition
    provided by Silvics of North America
    Sassafras is classed as intolerant of shade at all ages. In forest stands, it usually appears as individual trees or in small groups and is usually in the dominant overstory. In the understory along the edges of heavy stands it may live, but generally does not reach merchantable size. If it becomes overtopped in mixed stands, it is one of the first species to die. Allelopathy seems to be the mechanism that allows sassafras, when it has invaded abandoned fields, to maintain itself aggressively in a relatively pure and mature forest (4). Field studies revealed that 10 species consistently appear exclusively outside of clump canopies of sassafras, and 7 other species predominated beneath the sassafras canopy. Annual herbs were effectively excluded from the understory flora. The allelopaths produced by sassafras are believed to be 2-pinene, 3-phellandrene, eugenol, safrole, citrol, and s-camphor (4).

    Regeneration Processes
    provided by Fire Effects Information System Plants
    More info for the terms: cover, hardwood, litter, natural, seed, stratification

    Sexual reproduction:  Sassafras is sexually mature by 10 years of age,
    and best seed production occurs between 25 and 50 years of age.  Good
    seed crops are produced every 1 to 2 years.  Seeds are dispersed by
    birds, water, and small mammals.  Sassafras seeds are usually dormant
    until spring, but some germination occurs in the fall immediately
    following dispersal [41].  Stratification in sand for 30 days at 41
    degrees Fahrenheit (5 deg C) breaks the natural dormancy.  Average
    germination rate is around 85 percent [83].  Since sassafras seeds are
    relatively large, initial establishment is not highly dependent on
    available soil nutrients.  Other factors appear to play a greater role.
    Seedling establishment occurred at higher than randomly expected
    frequencies on microsites with greater ground cover, less light, or
    deeper litter than other microsites [14].  Sassafras seeds were found in
    seed banks under red pine (Pinus resinosa), eastern white pine (P.
    strobus), and Virginia pine (P. virginiana) stands [6].  Sassafras
    seedling reproduction is usually sparse and erratic in wooded areas.  In
    these areas, reproduction is usually vegetative [32,41].

    Asexual reproduction:  Sassafras forms dense thickets of root sprouts,
    and young trees sprout from the stump [41].  After clearcutting in
    upland hardwood stands (Indiana), 86.5 percent of sassafras regeneration
    was of seedling or seedling sprout origin; the remainder was of stump
    sprout origin [36].
    Rooting Habit
    provided by Silvics of North America
    Sassafras roots are shallow and of the prominent lateral type. The long laterals extend for a distance with little change in diameter, branch occasionally, and form an increasingly complex system (3). The laterals are practically all from 15 to 50 cm (6 to 20 in) deep, rising and falling at various intervals. Lateral spread is at the rate of 74 cm (29 in) per year. The forming of a sucker results in the development of feeding roots that otherwise would not be present on the lateral. These roots arise near the sucker and on the larger part of the lateral. They branch to very fine rootlets that are quite important in the species adaptability to vigorous growth on various types of soil.

    Successional Status
    provided by Fire Effects Information System Plants
    More info on this topic.

    More info for the terms: climax, density, forest, frequency, fresh, fruit, presence, relative density, shrub, succession

    Facultative Seral Species

    Sassafras is a frequent pioneer in old fields, and is a member of seral
    stands in the Southeast [41].  In old-field succession in Tennessee,
    sassafras was a dominant member of a 15-year-old stand, and was not
    present in a 48-year-old stand [11].  In Virginia, sassafras persists to
    mid-successional stages with black locust, Virginia pine, pitch pine,
    eastern white pine, scarlet oak, blackjack oak, and post oak [86].  It
    also occurs in the canopy of old-growth forests in Illinois and Michigan
    [45,71].  In the Michigan stands sassafras decreased in relative density
    during a 20-year study [45].  The persistence of sassafras into later
    seres and climax stands may be a result of gap capture; in an old-growth
    forest in Massachusetts, older sassafras trees appear to be associated
    with hurricane and/or windthrow gaps.  There was no evidence of fire
    disturbance in this forest [25].  Human activities and disturbance can
    foster sassafras establishment in old-growth stands.  The relatively
    high abundance of sassafras under Virginia pine stands is associated
    with a greater frequency of tree-fall gaps under Virginia pine than
    under red pine or eastern white pine [6].  Sassafras seedlings in Table
    Mountain pine (Pinus pungens) stands are able to exploit canopy gaps at
    the expense of Table Mountain pine [87].

    A detailed study of age structure in mixed forests in Virginia reveals
    another role for sassafras.  In 45- to 80-year-old mixed hardwoods and
    mixed pine stands, sassafras seedlings and saplings occur in large
    numbers.  They rarely survive more than 30 years except on moist sites.
    On relatively dry sites, sassafras does not survive long enough to
    occupy upper canopy positions.  But since sassafras sprouts
    prolifically, there is a constant turnover of sassafras stems; older
    stems die back and are replaced by new ramets.  Sassafras in the
    understory produces fruit under these conditions.  In these stands,
    sassafras is apparently functioning as a dominant shrub [72].

    In New Jersey, fragmented mixed oak forests were compared with forests
    that were continuous.  Sassafras was present in 63 percent of the
    fragments, compared to 25 percent of the continuous stands [37].

    Sassafras exhibits a positive response to overstory removal; overstory
    defoliation by gypsy moths results in an increase in the number of
    sassafras stems [1].

    An unusual pure stand of sassafras was reported by Lamb [59] in 1923.
    This stand appeared to have remained essentially pure and intact for
    over 100 years.  The trees were described as fully mature, slow growing,
    and the soil was very fertile.  It is possible that the persistence of
    this stand, and the competitive success of sassafras in pioneer
    communities are related to the presence of terpenoid allelopathic
    substances in sassafras leaves .  These substances affect, among other
    species, American elm (Ulmus americana) and box elder (Acer negundo).
    The susceptibility of these species appears to be related to their habit
    of germination immediately following dispersal.  The toxic terpenes are
    washed off of summer leaves and are less concentrated in winter and
    spring when no fresh leaves are present [31,34].


    provided by eFloras
    Flowering spring (Apr-May).
    provided by Fire Effects Information System Plants
    More info on this topic.

    Depending upon latitude, sassafras flowers from March to May [24], and
    fruits ripen from June to September [68,76,77].


    Flowering and Fruiting
    provided by Silvics of North America
    Sassafras is dioecious. Greenish-yellow flowers appear in March and April as the leaves unfold. They develop in loose, drooping few-flowered axillary racemes.

    The fruit, 8 to 13 mm (0.3 to 0.5 in) long, is a single-seeded dark-blue drupe. It matures in August and September of the first year. The fruit is borne on a thickened red pedicel, and the pulpy flesh covers the seed.

    Seed Production and Dissemination
    provided by Silvics of North America
    Seed production begins when trees approach 10 years of age and is greatest when trees are 25 to 50 years old.Good seed crops are produced every 1 or 2 years (2). There are 8,800 to 13,200 seeds/kg (4,000 to 6,000/lb) and soundness is 35 percent. Birds are principal agents of seed dissemination, with water a secondary agent. Some seeds probably are distributed by small mammals.

    Seedling Development
    provided by Silvics of North America
    Sassafras seed usually remains dormant until spring, although some early maturing seed may germinate in fall. The limit for storage of sassafras in the forest floor is about 6 years (15). Stratification for 120 days in moist sand at 5° C (41° F) breaks natural dormancy (2). The best seedbed is a moist, rich, loamy soil with a protective cover of leaves and litter. Germination is hypogeal.

    Sassafras is intolerant of shade and reproduction is sparse and erratic in wooded areas. Subsequent reproduction is usually vegetative. The dense thickets often found in woods openings or in old fields develop from root sprouts rather than seed. On good sites where competition is not heavy, the sprouts may grow 3.7 in (12 ft) in 3 years and sometimes are abundant (3). Elsewhere growth is slow. Because sassafras grows in dense stands and sprouts prolifically, it is a difficult cover type to convert to pine or more desirable hardwoods.

    Vegetative Reproduction
    provided by Silvics of North America
    Sassafras reproduces easily by root sprouts. In parts of its ranges, sprouts rapidly restock abandoned farmlands (3). Sprouting is prolific from the stumps of young trees. Sassafras can be propagated fairly well from root cuttings, but not from stem cuttings. Two cutting types-roots with a stem sprout planted vertically and large roots planted horizontally-were found to be superior (9).


    Growth and Yield
    provided by Silvics of North America
    Sassafras varies in size from shrubs to large trees with straight, clear trunks. The short, stout branches spread at right angles to form a narrow flat-topped crown. It may attain heights of 30 in (98 ft) on the best sites. On poor sites, especially in the northern part of its range and in Florida, sassafras is short and shrubby (12). Mature trees may average only 15 to 20 cm (6 to 8 in) in d.b.h., with a maximum of about 38 cm (15 in). Natural pruning is good in well-stocked stands.


Conservation Status

    Conservation Status
    provided by Fire Effects Information System Plants
    Sassafras is listed under "Special Concern-Possibly Extirpated" in Maine [22].


    Management considerations
    provided by Fire Effects Information System Plants
    More info for the term: top-kill

    Overstory removal often results in an increase in sassafras stems,
    particularly by sprouting [81].  Sassafras thickets may displace more
    desirable species for a short time, but few sassafras stems will occupy
    space in the overstory [62].  Some herbicides control sassafras [5].
    Complete top-kill was achieved with injection of 2,4-D, picloram, and
    glyphosate, with no apparent sprouting 2 years after treatment [66].
    Arsenal (an imidazolinone-based herbicide) also controls sassafras [57].
    Other herbicides do not control root sprouting [33,62].

    Dense stands of sassafras are difficult to convert to pine or more
    desirable hardwoods [41].  Mowing is not effective in controlling
    sassafras; root sprouts quickly replace or increase aboveground stems

    Sassafras is difficult to transplant because of the sparse, far-ranging
    root system [75].

    In North Carolina, mechanical removal of all nondesirable stems
    (intensive silvicultural cleaning) increased the amount of sassafras
    browse available to white-tailed deer. .  Prior to the cleaning,
    sassafras was out of reach of the deer; sprouts arising after the
    cleaning were within reach [18].

    Major diseases of sassafras include leaf blight, leaf spot, Nectria
    canker and American mistletoe (Phoradendron flavescens) [41].

    Insect pests of sassafras are mostly minor; the most damaging insects
    are the larvae of wood-boring weevils, gypsy moths, loopers, and
    Japanese beetles [41].

    Sassafras is extremely sensitive to ozone [43].


    Importance to Livestock and Wildlife
    provided by Fire Effects Information System Plants
    More info for the term: marsh

    Sassafras leaves and twigs are consumed by white-tailed deer in both
    summer and winter.  In some areas it is an important deer food [41].
    Sassafras leaf browsers include woodchucks, marsh rabbits, and black
    bears [83].  Rabbits eat sassafras bark in winter [8].  Beavers will cut
    sassafras stems [15].  Sassafras fruits are eaten by many species of
    birds including northern bobwhites [58], eastern kingbirds, great
    crested flycatchers, phoebes, wild turkeys, catbirds, flickers, pileated
    woodpeckers, downy woodpeckers, thrushes, vireos, and mockingbirds.
    Some small mammals also consume sassafras fruits [16,65,75,83].

    For most of the above mentioned animals, sassafras is not consumed in
    large enough quantities to be important.  Carey and Gill [9] rate its
    value to wildlife as fair, their lowest rating.
    Nutritional Value
    provided by Fire Effects Information System Plants
    The nutritional value of sassafras winter twigs is fair [67].  Seasonal
    changes in nutrient composition of sassafras leaves and twigs has been
    reported.  Crude protein ranged from a high of 21.0 percent in April
    leaves to a low of 6.1 in January twigs [7].

    Sassafras fruits are high in lipids and energy value [85].
    Other uses and values
    provided by Fire Effects Information System Plants
    Sassafras oil is extracted from the root bark for use by the perfume
    industry, primarily for scenting soaps.  It is also used as a flavoring
    agent and an antiseptic [41,83].  Large doses of the oil may be narcotic
    [83].  Root bark is also used to make tea, which in weak infusions is a
    pleasant beverage, but induces sweating in strong infusions.  The leaves
    can be used to flavor and thicken soups [41,83].  The mucilaginous pith
    of the root is used in preparations to soothe eye irritations [83].

    Because of its durability, sassafras was used for dugout canoes by
    Native Americans [49].
    provided by Fire Effects Information System Plants
    Palatability of sassafras to white-tailed deer is rated as good
    throughout its range [41].
    Special Uses
    provided by Silvics of North America
    The bark, twigs, and leaves of sassafras are important foods for wildlife in some areas. Deer browse the twigs in the winter and the leaves and succulent growth during spring and summer. Palatability, although quite variable, is considered good throughout the range. In addition to its value to wildlife, sassafras provides wood and bark for a variety of commercial and domestic uses. Tea is brewed from the bark of roots. The leaves are used in thickening soups. The orange wood has been used for cooperage, buckets, posts, and furniture (7). The oil is used to perfume some soaps. Finally, sassafras is considered a good choice for restoring depleted soils in old fields. It was superior to black locust or pines for this purpose in Indiana and Illinois (1).

    Value for rehabilitation of disturbed sites
    provided by Fire Effects Information System Plants
    Sassafras is used for restoring depleted soils in old fields [41].

    Sassafras occurs on sites that have been largely denuded of other
    vegetation by the combination of frequent fire and toxic emissions from
    zinc smelters.  Sassafras persistence on these sites is attributed to
    root sprouting; seedling reproduction is severely curtailed by the high
    level of toxins in the soil [52].
    Wood Products Value
    provided by Fire Effects Information System Plants
    Sassafras wood is soft, brittle, light, and has limited commercial value
    [41].  It is durable, however, and is used for cooperage, buckets,
    fenceposts, rails, cabinets, interior finish, and furniture [24,41,83].
    Carey and Gill [9] rate its value for firewood as good, their middle


    Common Names
    provided by Fire Effects Information System Plants
    More info for the term: tree

    white sassafras
    common sassafras
    ague tree
    cinnamon wood
    smelling stick
    gumbo file
    mitten tree
    provided by Fire Effects Information System Plants
    S.variifolium (Salisb.) K. & Ze.
    S. sassafras (L.) Karsten
    S. officinale (Nees. & Eberm.)
    S. triloba Raf.
    S. triloba var. mollis Raf.
    provided by Fire Effects Information System Plants
    More info for the term: fern

    The currently accepted scientific name of sassafras is Sassafras
    albidum (Nutt.) Nees. [41,61].

    Some authorities consider red sassafras [S. a. var. molle (Raf.) Fern.]
    a distinct variety [8,30,82]; other authors consider it synonymous with
    the type variety [53,61,68].