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 Sassafras subsp. var.  Sassafras
Habit: tree
Height: to
Width: to
9m18m 7.6m12m
Height: 9 m to 18 m
Width: 7.6 m to 12 m
Lifespan: perennial
Features: deciduous, fragrance
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Minimum Temp: °Fwarning.png"°F" is not a number.
USDA Zones: to
Sunset Zones:
Flower features:
Lauraceae > Sassafras var. ,

Sassafras is a genus of three[1][2] extant and one extinct[3] species of deciduous trees in the family Lauraceae, native to eastern North America and eastern Asia.[2]

Sassafras trees grow from 9.1 – 18 m tall and spreading 7.6 – 12 m[4] The trunk grows 70 – 150 cm in diameter, with many slender branches, and smooth, orange-brown bark. The branching is sympodial. The bark of the mature trunk is thick, red-brown, and deeply furrowed. The wood is light, hard and sometimes brittle. All parts of the plants are very fragrant. The species are unusual in having three distinct leaf patterns on the same plant, unlobed oval, bilobed (mitten-shaped), and trilobed (three pronged); rarely the leaves can be five-lobed.[5] They have smooth margins and grow 7–20 cm long by 5–10 cm broad. The young leaves and twigs are quite mucilaginous, and produce a citrus-like scent when crushed. The tiny, yellow flowers are five-petaled and bloom in the spring; they are dioecious, with male and female flowers on separate trees. The fruit are blue-black, egg-shaped, 1 cm long, produced on long, red-stalked cups, and mature in late summer.[1] The largest Sassafras tree in the United States is located in Owensboro, Kentucky.[6][7]

Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture

Sassafras (Spanish, Salsafras, Saxifraga; medicinal properties similar to those of Saxifraga were attributed to it by Spanish discoverers). Lauraceae. Sassafras. Ornamental trees grown for their handsome foliage assuming beautiful tints in autumn and for their bright-colored fruit.

Deciduous: lvs. alternate, entire or 3-lobed, slender-petioled: fls. dioecious, rarely perfect, apetalous; calyx 6-parted; stamens 9, the 3 inner ones furnished at the base with 2 stalked, orange-colored glands; staminodes 3 or wanting; anthers opening with 4 valves; ovary superior, 1-loculed: fr. an oblong-ovoid, 1-seeded, dark blue drupe surrounded at the base by the thickened scarlet calyx.—Two species, one in E. N. Amer. and one in China.

The sassafrases are handsome trees of pyramidal habit with rather large, entire or 3-lobed leaves and small yellow flowers in few-flowered racemes appearing in spring with the leaves and followed by ornamental dark blue fruits on red fleshy stalks. The native species is hardy North, while the Chinese one which is still little known in cultivation is somewhat tenderer. The American sassafras usually affects light lands, although it may grow in clay loams. It is a desirable tree for ornamental planting on account of its handsome light green foliage, which is interesting with its varying shapes and its orange-yellow or bright red color in autumn, and on account of its decorative bright-colored fruit. It prefers, at least in the North, a warm and sunny position. It is not easily transplanted when old on account of its long tap-roots. Propagation is by seeds sown as soon as ripe; also by suckers, which are often freely produced, and by root-cuttings.CH

The above text is from the Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture. It may be out of date, but still contains valuable and interesting information which can be incorporated into the remainder of the article. Click on "Collapse" in the header to hide this text.



Pests and diseases


  • Sassafras albidum (Nuttall) Nees - Sassafras, White Sassafras, Red Sassafras or Silky Sassafras. Eastern North America, from southernmost Ontario, Canada through the eastern United States south to central Florida, and west to southern Iowa and eastern Texas.wp
  • Sassafras tzumu (Hemsl.) Hemsl. - Chinese Sassafras or Tzumu. Central and southwestern China. It differs from S. albidum in the leaves being more frequently three-lobed,[8] the lobes having a tapered acuminate apex (not rounded to weakly acute).wp
  • Sassafras randaiense (Hayata) Rehd. - Taiwan Sassafras. Taiwan.wp



  1. 1.0 1.1 Flora of North America: Sassafras
  2. 2.0 2.1 Phylogeny and biogeography of Sassafras (Lauraceae) disjunct between eastern Asia and eastern North America, Plant Systematics and Evolution, volume 267, pages 191–203
    1. redirect Template:Smallcaps &
    2. redirect Template:Smallcaps 1987. "Middle Eocene Dicotyledonous Plants from Republic, Northeastern Washington". United States Geological Survey Bulletin 1597:13
  3. Dirr, Manual of woody landscape plants. Page 938.
  4. Noble Plant Image Gallery Sassafras (includes photo of five-lobed leaf)
  6. The biggest sassafras, American Forests, May-June, 1994, Whit Bronaugh
  7. Arboretum Trompenburg: Sassafras tzumu photo

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