Alphabetical Plant Listing

Sassafras albidum (Sassafras)

Sassafras, Ague Tree, Sassafras Tree, White Sassafras, Cinnamon Wood, Mitten Tree, Saloop, Smelling Stick, Sassafras officinale, Sassafras variifolium


Noted for its remarkable foliage, Sassafras albidum (Sassafras) is an upright deciduous tree of dense, pyramidal to highly irregular habit with horizontal branches in cloud-like tiers. Mitten-shaped, oval or three-lobed, the bright green leaves, 4-7 in. long (10-17 cm), turn brilliant shades of yellow, orange, and red in the fall. Sprays of small yellow flowers appear at the branch tips in spring, before or with the leaves. Sassafras albidum is dioecious with separate male and female trees. The pollinated flowers on female trees give way to small pendant clusters of red-stalked, dark blue berries which mature in early fall. The greenish twigs and leafstalks have a pleasant, spicy, slightly gummy taste. The dark cinnamon to mahogany-brown bark is deeply ridged and furrowed, providing winter interest. Sassafras albidum spreads by root suckers and can form a small grove, however, it is easily controlled as a single tree. A pleasantly aromatic tree that is great for naturalistic plantings or screens with outstanding fall color. Sassafras is important to wildlife: Sassafras fruits are eaten by small mammals and many species of birds including northern bobwhites, eastern kingbirds, great crested flycatchers, phoebes, wild turkeys, catbirds, flickers, pileated woodpeckers, downy woodpeckers, thrushes, vireos, and mockingbirds.

  • Grows up to 30-60 ft. tall (9-18 m) and 25-40 ft. wide (7-12 m).
  • Performs best in deep, moist, acidic, well-drained soils in full sun or part shade. Adaptable to a wide range of soil conditions, including clay or dry, sandy soils. Drought tolerant. Hard to transplant.
  • Perfect as a specimen plant or in groupings, for cottage gardens or as an informal hedge or screen.
  • Generally pest and disease free
  • No routine pruning necessary. Remove diseased, damaged, congested or crossing shoots. Remove suckers unless a thicket is required.
  • Propagate by seed sown in containers in a cold frame as soon as ripe; take root cuttings in winter.
  • Native to eastern North America, from Maine to Ontario and Michigan, south to Florida and Texas.

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Requirements

Hardiness 4 – 9
Heat Zones 3 – 8
Plant Type Trees
Exposure Full Sun, Partial Sun
Season of Interest Spring (Early,Mid,Late)
Summer (Early,Mid,Late)
Fall
Winter
Height 30' – 60' (9m – 18m)
Spread 25' – 40' (7.5m – 12m)
Water Needs Low, Average
Maintenance Average
Soil Type Clay, Loam
Soil pH Acid, Neutral
Soil Drainage Moist but Well-Drained, Well-Drained
Characteristics Fragrant, Showy, Fruit & Berries
Native Plants United States, Midwest, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, Wisconsin, Northeast, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Southeast, Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Southwest, Oklahoma, Texas
Tolerance Clay Soil, Drought, Dry Soil
Attracts Birds, Butterflies
Garden Styles Informal and Cottage

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Shutterstock, USGS Bee Inventory and Monitoring Lab, Puddin Tan, Nicholas A. Tonelli (Flickr)

While every effort has been made to describe these plants accurately, please keep in mind that height, bloom time, and color may differ in various climates. The description of these plants has been written based on numerous outside resources.


Requirements

Hardiness 4 – 9
Heat Zones 3 – 8
Plant Type Trees
Exposure Full Sun, Partial Sun
Season of Interest Spring (Early,Mid,Late)
Summer (Early,Mid,Late)
Fall
Winter
Height 30' – 60' (9m – 18m)
Spread 25' – 40' (7.5m – 12m)
Water Needs Low, Average
Maintenance Average
Soil Type Clay, Loam
Soil pH Acid, Neutral
Soil Drainage Moist but Well-Drained, Well-Drained
Characteristics Fragrant, Showy, Fruit & Berries
Native Plants United States, Midwest, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, Wisconsin, Northeast, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Southeast, Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Southwest, Oklahoma, Texas
Tolerance Clay Soil, Drought, Dry Soil
Attracts Birds, Butterflies
Garden Styles Informal and Cottage

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