Sassafras Facts

Sassafras Facts
Sassafras is deciduous tree that belongs to the laurel family. It originates from northeastern parts of the North America and eastern Asia. Sassafras grows on the moist, well-drained sandy soil. It can be found in the woods, fields and other open areas. Sassafras is one of the first plants that will appear in deforested areas (pioneer species). It is able to produce and release substances that prevent growth of other, competing plant species. People cultivate sassafras as a source of wood and fragrant oils.
Interesting Sassafras Facts:
Sassafras can grow as tall shrub or tree. It can reach 20 to 60 feet (rarely 100 feet) in height and 25 to 39 feet in width. Crown is composed of slender, wide-spreading branches. Each part of the sassafras tree is aromatic.
Sassafras has green, smooth bark while the tree is young. Bark changes the color into orange-brown and becomes furrowed on the older trees.
Sassafras produces three different types of leaves on the same tree: oval, mitten-shaped and three-lobed leaves. Leaves are smooth on the edges and intense green colored during the spring and summer. Color of the leaves changes to yellow, orange, red and purple before they fall from the tree during the autumn. Crushed leaves release citrus-like scent.
Sassafras is dioecious plant (male and female flowers develop on separate plants). Yellow-green flowers are arranged in small clusters. They appear during the spring and last only couple of days.
Fruit of sassafras is dark-blue or black, oval-shaped drupe.
Mockingbird, wild turkeys, thrushes, quails, gray catbirds, woodpeckers, kingbirds, warblers, phoebes and vireos like to eat sassafras fruit. They play important role in dispersal of seed.
White-tail deer eat leaves and twigs, brown bears, squirrels and beavers eat fruit, while rabbits eat bark of sassafras tree.
Root of sassafras is used in the manufacture of some types of beers.
Leaves and bark of sassafras are used in the manufacture of sassafras tea.
Sassafras contains compound called safrole which induces liver damage and some types of cancer in humans and animals. Extracts of sassafras that are used for the manufacture of beer and tea are safrole-free and safe for consumption.
Oils extracted from the root bark of sassafras are used in the cosmetic industry for the manufacture of soaps and perfumes.
Native Americans used sassafras in treatment of fever, diarrhea, common cold, toothache, menstrual disorders, arthritis, sore eyes, kidney problems, insect bites, nosebleed, cuts and sprained ankles.
Native Americans used wood of sassafras for the manufacture of canoes. They also used leaves to improve flavor of many dishes.
Wood of sassafras is used in the manufacture of rails, cabinets, buckets, furniture and as a firewood.
Sassafras can survive up to 1.000 years in the wild under optimal conditions.

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