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Sassafras Tree

Latin: Sassafras albidum

Family: Lauraceae

About - a pleasant, spicy fragrance is derived from the leaves, twigs, branches and bark when crushed. Boiling the inner bark yields an orange dye.

 

Description - grows to a height of 15 - 30 m with an irregular, broadly conical shape. Freely suckering tree.

 

Leaf - simple, alternate, 1 - 3 lobed, taper at tip and base. Lobed leaves become more rare as trees ages.

 

Bark - mature bark is reddish-brown with deep, corky ridges and is resinous and aromatic when broken.

 

Bud - smooth, green, oval, and pointed.

 

Twig - young twigs are smooth and yellow-green, and by late summer are dark green with warty bumps.

 

Flower - yellow-green in stalked clusters either male or female (dioecious).

 

Fruit - egg shaped, berry-like and each on a club shaped fleshy stalk growing in clusters. Contains a large stone-like seed.

 

Habitat - moist sand, dry clay, dry sand.

 

Wildlife Value - fruits are food for birds, squirrels, small mammals. Foliage preferred by promethea moth and spicebush swallowtail butterfly.

 

Wood - brittle, used for posts, boats, furniture, and once used to make dugout canoes. Oil derived from the roots used to perfume soaps and give root beer its distinctive taste.

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48075 Jamestown Line R.R. #2, Aylmer ON N5H 2R2