Sassafras albidum - Sassafras
Family: Lauraceae

Hear the scientific name

Sassafras albidum is an attractive native American tree known for spectacular autumn color and "mitten" leaves. Sassafras can naturalize in a landscaped area.

F   E   A   T   U   R   E   S
  form Form

-deciduous tree

-medium size (up to 30-60' tall x 25-40' wide)

-pyramidal in youth, becoming oval in maturity but with an irregular silhouette; tends to sucker

-moderate growth rate, but long-lived

foliage Foliage

-simple

-alternate

-elliptic to oval

-may be lobed (2-3 lobes, in the shape of a "mitten")

-smooth margins

-2-4" long

-fragrant when crushed; smell somewhat of orange or vanilla

-bright green above, blue-green below in summer

-autumn color can be spectacular orange, red or yellow; especially if plant is in full sun

Flowers
flowers

-inconspicuous flowers before the foliage

-in spring

-yellow

-terminal panicles

Fruit

-fleshy, 0.5" round berries

-deep blue

-quickly consumed by wildlife

Twig

-green

-medium thickness

trunk Trunk

-can be trained to grow with multiple trunks

-gray

-fissured

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Culture

-full sun to partial shade

-performs best in neutral to slightly acidic soils that are deep and fertile, but tolerates a wide range of soil conditions including wet soils and some moderately dry soils

-rare availability as B&B or container

-difficult to transplant because of coarse root system

-susceptible to attack by pests and diseases, especially if in a stressful environment

distribution map

Hardiness

-zones 5 to 8

Origin

-native to Eastern U.S. (west to Michigan and Texas, south to Georgia, Alabama)

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Assets

-spectacular autumn color, if grown in full sun

Liabilities

-susceptible to various insects (Japanese beetle, promethea moth, sassafras weevil, and scales)

-affected by some diseases (cankers, mildew, leaf spots, wilt, root rot)

-recovers slowly

Function

-specimen or shade tree for excellent autumn color

-street tree and parking lot islands

-appropriate in "naturalistic landscapes"

Texture

-medium in foliage and when bare

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Varieties and Cultivars - Search OSU PlantFacts for additional plants in this species

Alternates

-trees with spectacular autumn color (Acer rubrum, Liquidambar styraciflua, Nyssa sylvatica, etc.)

 


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