Sassafras

Silhouette - sassafras
  • Latin name: Sassafras albidum (Nutt.) Nees
  • French name: Sassafras officinal
  • Taxonomic Serial Number: 18158
Description

Leaves

  • Leaf form - sassafras
  • Leaf form - sassafras
  • Leaf form - sassafras

Form

  • Deciduous, alternate, simple
  • Blunt-tipped
  • Base wedge-shaped
  • Prominently 3-veined above base
  • Other veins pinnately arranged along the midvein
  • Curving toward the tip of the leaf
  • Unlobed or with 2–3 lobes
  • All shapes occurring on the same tree
  • Lower surface hairless or slightly hairy 
  • Spicy odour when bruised

Length

  • 10–15 cm

Autumn colour

  • Yellow to red

Margin

  • Smooth

Buds

  • Lateral bud and leaf scar - sassafras

Form

  • Terminal bud ovoid, several scales
  • Lateral buds smaller than terminal
  • Plump
  • Leaf scars with 1 dash-like vein scar

Length

  • Terminal bud 10–15 mm

Colour

  • Greenish

Twigs

  • Winter twig - sassafras

Form

  • Stout, smooth
  • Glossy, brittle

Colour

  • Yellowish-green

Flowers

Form

  • Small
  • In loose clusters (racemes) at the base of new shoots

Colour

  • Greenish-yellow

Structure

  • Mostly dioecious

Floral timing

  • Before the leaves unfold

Fruits

  • Fruit - sassafras

Form

  • Berry-like with a large, stone-like seed
  • In a cup on a long stalk
  • Several to a cluster

Length

  • 10–15 mm

Colour

  • Dark blue
  • Cup red
  • Stalk red

Structure

  • Drupe

Bark

Form

  • Deeply grooved
  • Heavy, soft, corky ridges

Colour

  • Dark brownish

Wood

Texture

  • Light, soft, weak
  • Durable, aromatic

Colour

  • Orange-brown
  • Sapwood yellow

Morphology

  • Coarse-grained

Size

Height

  • To 20 m

Diameter

  • To 50 cm

Tree form

  • Silhouette - sassafras

Forest-grown

Trunk

  • Many abruptly spreading, crooked, brittle branches

Crown

  • Flat-topped, irregular, columnar
  • Upper secondary lateral shoots usually longer than
  • primary shoot internode

Root system

  • Sparse, spreading

Habitat

Site

  • Variable, nutrient-rich to poor
  • In forest openings and edges

Light tolerance

  • Shade-tolerant

Associated species

  • Mixed with other broadleaf trees

Range

Rare in Canada
Southern Ontario, north of Lake Erie from southern Lake Huron to the west end of Lake Ontario

Photos
  • Sassafras
  • Sassafras
  • Sassafras
Distribution map
Distribution map - sassafras
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