Sassafras - Sassafras albidum

One of the trees of New England is the sassafras or the sassafras albidum. The kingdom is Plantae. It is a member of the laurel family, Lauraceae. The genus is Sassafras and the species is S. albidum.

The sassafras tree is found in the Eastern United States from Maine to Florida and as far west as Iowa and Texas. In New England the sassafras tree is found in the southern and central portion of the region. The tree grows in openings and the edges of moist, sandy woodlands.

The sassafras is a medium sized tree or a thicket- forming shrub. It can grow to a height of forty feet. The leaves of the tree reach five inches, and the leaves may have one, three, or five lobes. In the fall, the leaves change color to become red, orange, and yellow, all on the same tree. The tree produces small pale yellow flowers which are used for sexual reproduction. The ovary of the flower develops into the fruit, which reaches a size of one half inch and has an oval shape. The fruit is a dark blue shade which grow in clusters on thick red stems. The bark is thick and furrowed with a gray-brown color.

The tree is known for its spicy taste and fragrance of the bark, green twigs, and leaves. Sassafras tea is made by boiling the root bark. Oil from the sassafras tree is used to add fragrance to soaps. The tree produces a soft, light wood that is used to make fence posts and lumber.


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