Please consult the PLANTS Web site and your State Department of Natural Resources for this plant’s current status (e.g. threatened or endangered species, state noxious status, and wetland indicator values).
General: Laurel Family (Lauraceae). Sassafras is a native, perennial, deciduous shrub or tree. The trees are short to medium-tall (9 to 18 m), and spread from 6 to 8 m. Young trees have greenish bark. Older
trees have reddish brown bark that is rough, thick, and deeply ridged. The leaves are alternate and variable in shape with either none or one to three lobes at the apex. The two-lobed leaves are mitten- shaped. The leaves are light, bright green during the summer and turn to bright yellow-orange and red- orange in the fall. The trees are dioecious (a tree will have either male or female flowers) with fragrant flowers. The female flowers (1cm across), borne on small, terminal clusters before the leaves, are without petals, but have six greenish-yellow sepals (3 to 5 mm long). Male flowers are inconspicuous. The female trees have small, oval fruits (6 to 10 mm) that are dark blue with thick, red stalks. The leaf buds appear at the same time the tree flowers in early spring. The fruits ripen in the fall.
Distribution: Sassafras is native to the eastern United States. For current distribution, please consult the Plant Profile page for this species on the PLANTS Web site.
Habitat: This plant is a pioneer tree on disturbed sites in its native range. It is adapted to various soils with low pH. It can be found in woodlands, fields and along roadsides.