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SassafrasSassafras albidum

  • Sassafras - Sassafras albidum
  • Sassafras - Sassafras albidum
A captivating, native North American tree known for its brilliant display of autumn foliage and aromatic smell. Leaves are 3"–7" long, bright to medium green in summer changing to enchanting colors of yellow, deep orange, scarlet and purple in the fall. They have a unique mitten (right- and left-handed) or three-lobe shape. The 1/2" dark blue fruit is loved by birds in the fall. Plant in full sun or partial shade in moist, acidic, well-drained soil. Be sure to remove any shoots that develop for a single-trunk tree. Grows at a medium to fast pace to 30'–60' tall with a 25'–40' spread. (zones 4–9)

Hardiness Zones

The sassafras can be expected to grow in Hardiness Zones 4–9. View Map

Tree Type

This tree is considered both a shade tree and an ornamental tree. It features a spreading canopy capable of blocking sunlight and adds visual interest and beauty to landscaping.

Mature Size

The sassafras grows to a height of 30–60' and a spread of 25–40' at maturity.

Growth Speed Medium to Fast Growth Rate

This tree grows at a medium to fast rate, with height increases of anywhere from 13" to more than 24" per year.

Sun Preference

Full sun and partial shade are best for this tree, meaning it prefers a minimum of four hours of direct, unfiltered sunlight each day.

Soil Preference

The sassafras grows well in acidic, moist, loamy, wet and well-drained soils. It has some tolerance to drought and salt.

Attributes

This tree:
  • Produces a wonderful aroma.
  • Provides a brilliant autumn display, with leaves turning yellow, deep orange, scarlet and purple.
  • Blooms in early spring, with clusters of yellow flowers about 1–2" long and up to ½" in diameter.
  • Can be grown as a single-trunk tree or a dense, bushy thicket.
  • Features bright to medium green leaves that are 3–7" long with a unique mitten or three-lobe shape.
  • Yields ½" dark blue fruit in the fall.
  • Grows in a rounded shape.

Wildlife Value

The fruit is eaten by deer, bears, wild turkeys and a wide variety of other birds.

History/Lore

Throughout its natural range, the roots and bark were once used as a regular spring tonic. A Spanish physician in 1574 announced that sassafras was a cure for almost every human ailment.