Home > Featured Articles > Tree of the Month: Sassafras

Tree of the Month: Sassafras

By Len Phillips, ASLA Emeritus


 


Common Name: Sassafras


Botanical Name: Sassafras albidum


Family: Lauraceae


Parentage: Native


Height: 30 to 60 feet


Spread: 25 to 40 feet


Form: Pyramidal, irregular


Flower: Yellow, slightly fragrant, beautiful when observed up close, 1 to 2 inches long


Fruit: Drupe is 1/2-inch long, dark blue on red stem, handsome up close


Foliage: Smooth leaves have one, two or three lobes on yellowish-green stem


Spring Color: Pale yellowish-green flowers, stems and young leaves


Summer Foliage: Medium green


Autumn Foliage: Yellow to orange to scarlet to purple, outstanding for fall color


Winter Color: Handsome bark and tree form in winter


Bark: Dark reddish-brown, ridged and furrowed with corky ridges


 

All photos provided by J. Frank Schmidt & Son Co.

Habitat:
Eastern half of the United States


Culture: Moist, acidic soil


Hardiness Zone*: 4 – 9


Growth Rate: Full size in less than 30 years


Pest Resistance: Free of major pest problems


Storm Resistance: Good


Salt Resistance: Good


Planting: Transplant B&B or container, difficult due to tap root and few lateral roots


Pruning: Keep sucker growth removed if single stem tree is desired


Propagating: Seeds or root cuttings in winter


Design Uses: Excellent for naturalizing a street or residential landscape


Companions: Best in Sassafras thicket


Site Requirements: Full sun to partial shade


Other Comments: Roots are used to make tea and oil


Available From: Most nurseries that specialize in native plants


 


* For information about the USDA Hardiness Zone Map, visit www.usna.usda.gov/Hardzone/index.html


 


These are the personal observations of the author, living in New England <dash> Zone 5b. Len Phillips can be reached via e-mail at lenphillips@on-line-seminars.com

About The Staff