Sassafras Sassafras
Sassafras Albidum

Common Names
Sassafras, ague tree, cinnamon wood, common sassafras, red sassafrass, saxifras, smelling stick, white sassafras.

Sassafras is a tree that grows to 40 feet in height. Twigs are green and produce particularly interesting leaves of 3 different shapes: one that looks like a mitten with 2-lobes, one that has three lobes and one that looks like a "normal" leaf. All parts of the tree have a spicy aroma. Fragrant, yellowish-green flowers are borne in clusters. Male and female flowers are usually borne on different trees. In September the female flowers develop into dark blue 1-seeded berries, about pea size, that are borne on a thick red stalk.

Sassafras roots have been used to make a tea, and the original "root beer" came from this tree.

Flowering Period
March to April

Along fence rows; in open woods and abandoned fields, and on dry ridges.

Root bark in spring and autumn; entire root in fall.

The root bark can be used to prepare a tea. Root material can be distilled to make sassafras oil, which is used mainly as a flavoring agent in beverages, confectionery tooth paste, and the like. The tea has been used as a diaphoretic, stimulant, diuretic, and carminative; and it is used in Appalacia to treat bronchitis. The bark is reportedly used also as an insect repellent. Colonial Americans were advised to chew the bark of this tree to break the tobacco habit. Sassafras leaves have been used as a dye to make a soft yellow tan. And some research suggest that, under certain conditions, the leaves may be carcinogenic.

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