Sassafras albidum

From - Plant Encyclopedia and Gardening wiki
Jump to: navigation, search
 Sassafras albidum subsp. var.  Sassafras
Sassafras, Saxifras, Tea Tree, Mitten Tree, Cinnamonwood (Sassafras albidum).jpg
Habit: tree
Height: to
Width: to
50ft 30ft
Height: warning.png"" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki. to 50 ft
Width: warning.png"" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki. to 30 ft
Lifespan: perennial
Poisonous: can be toxic in excess
Bloom: early spring, mid spring, late spring
Exposure: sun
Water: moist
Features: flowers
Hidden fields, interally pass variables to right place
Minimum Temp: °Fwarning.png"°F" is not a number.
USDA Zones: 5 to 9
Sunset Zones:
Flower features:
Lauraceae > Sassafras albidum var. ,

Sassafras albidum (Sassafras, White Sassafras, Red Sassafras, or Silky Sassafras) is a species of Sassafras native to eastern North America. It occurs throughout the eastern deciduous forest habitat type, at altitudes of sea level up to 1,500 m.[1][2][3]

Sassafras is often grown as an ornamental tree for its unusual leaves and aromatic scent. Outside of its native area, it is occasionally cultivated in Europe and elsewhere.[2]

It is a medium-sized deciduous tree growing to 15–20[4][5] m tall, with a trunk up to 60 cm diameter, and a crown with many slender branches. The bark on trunk of mature trees is thick, dark red-brown, and deeply furrowed. The branching is sympodial. 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 long and 5–10 cm 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 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 long containing a single seed, borne on a red fleshy club-shaped pedicel 2 cm long; it is ripe in late summer, with the seeds dispersed by birds. The cotyledons 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.[1][2][3][6]

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.


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 in the first year and 4.5 m 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.[2][3][6]

It is hardy to zone 5 and is frost tender. It is in leaf from April to October, in flower from May to June, and the seeds ripen from September to October. The flowers are dioecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but only one sex is to be found on any one plant so both male and female plants must be grown if seed is required)The plant is not self-fertile.

The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and requires well-drained soil. The plant prefers acid and neutral soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It requires moist soil.

Requires a deep, fertile, well-drained, lime-free, near neutral soil in sun or light shade[11, 200]. Does well in a woodland garden[166], especially in a sheltered position along the edge[200]. The plant is tender when young, the young shoots of older trees can also be damaged by late spring frosts[11, 238]. A very ornamental plant[1] with a wide range of uses, it is occasionally cultivated and often gathered from the wild[61]. All parts of the tree contain essential oils and give off a pleasant spicy aroma when crushed[229]. The stem bark is highly aromatic, more so than the wood. The root stem bark is the most pleasant of all[245]. The flowers have a spicy perfume[245]. Trees are long-lived, moderately fast-growing and disease-free in the wild[227, 229]. They can begin flowering when only 10 years old and good seed crops are usually produced every 2 - 3 years[229]. The trees spread by root suckers and can form thickets[229]. Although some flowers appear to be hermaphrodite, they are functionally either male or female and most trees are dioecious[229]. Both male and female plants must be grown if seed is required.


Seed - best sown as soon as ripe in a cold frame[200]. Stored seed requires 4 months cold stratification at 4°c[113]. It is best sown as early in the year as possible. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots as soon as possible and grow them on in the greenhouse. One report says to harden off the plants as soon as possible[78], but young plants are frost-tender[11] and so we recommend growing them on in the greenhouse for their first winter and then planting them out in early summer. Give the young trees some protection for at least their first winter outdoors[K]. Root cuttings, taken from suckers, 1 - 2cm long taken in December. Plant horizontally in pots in a greenhouse[78]. Suckers in late winter. Plant straight out into their permanent positions[200].

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,[7] 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 albidum
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 U.S. Forest Service: Sassafras albidum (pdf file)
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Hope College, Michigan: Sassafras albidum
  4. 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
  5. Sassafras albidum
  6. 6.0 6.1 Keeler, H. L. (1900). Our Native Trees and How to Identify Them. Charles Scriber's Sons, New York.
  7. Arboretum Trompenburg: Sassafras tzumu photo

External links

blog comments powered by Disqus
Personal tools
Bookmark and Share