Sassafras albidum

leaves, twig, and fruit Leaves:

  • Margins are smooth
  • Three patterns:
    1. Three "fingers"
    2. A "thumb and mitten" outline
    3. Smooth, egg-shaped
    Usually all are present on same tree
  • Turn reddish-orange in the fall
bark, twig, and fruitBranching: alternate

Bark: mature tree reddish-brown and furrowed; when scratched, smells like root beer

Height: 10 to 50 ft.

Trunk Diameter: 2 to 12 in.

Longevity: 30 to 40 yrs.

Tolerance: intolerant

Range: eastern U.S.

leavesFun Facts:

  • Tea may be made from boiling pieces of the outer bark from the roots.
  • Sassafras oil is used in some soaps.
  • Twigs browsed by rabbits and deer.
  • Fruit eaten by songbirds, bobwhite, wild turkey, and bear.
  • Wood was once used for barrels, buckets, posts, small boats, dugout canoes, and fuel.
  • Spread from the roots.


Identify Another Tree

This key was developed by "bt" in June 1982. It was put into HTML format by Stephen Ostermiller in July 1997. Copies of the entire guide in zip format that may be taken to camp on a laptop are available to those who write.