Life Span: long-lived perennial
Noted for: Showy flowers, showy fruits, aroma, fragrance, fall color, interesting foliage
Recommended Uses: A relatively small tree that often forms thickets. Best used in informal settings.
Considerations: Like other members of this family, sassafras trees are threatened by the spread of the redbay ambrosia beetle and the laural wilt fungus it carries.
Mildly toxic, especially the bark.
Propagation: Seed, cuttings (root or stem), division by digging the sprouts.
Availability: Quality nurseries, Native nurseries, FNPS plant sales
Salt Tolerance: Not salt tolerant
Soil or other substrate: Sand, clay, loam
Larval food for spicebush butterfly(Papilio troilus), tiger swallow-tail(papilio glaucus), palamedes butterfly (Papilio palamedes).
Flowers attract pollinators. Birds consume fruit.
Native Habitats: Dry sites. Dry mesic forests.
Distribution and Planting Zones
USDA zones are based on minimum winter temperatures
Suitable to grow in:
Ethnobotany: Bark was used for an orange dye. Tea can be made with young roots and leaves may be used in salads or cooked with other greens.
Other Comments: Tolerates a wide variety of conditions from soggy to dry. Red/orange fall color is excellent.
Leaves have three separate shapes: ovoid, tri-lobed, or mitten-shaped (left or right). Mature trees tend to have fewer lobed leaves.