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Toxic parts

The extracted essential oil is poisonous in large quantities[1][2]. The essential il contains safrole which is known to be carcinogenic and potentially harmful to the liver[3]. The essential oil has been banned as a food flavouring in America, even though the potential toxicity is lower than that of alcohol[4].

Edible uses


Leaves - raw or cooked. The young leaves can be added to salads whilst both old and young leaves can be used as a flavouring and as a thickening agent in soups etc[5][6][7][8][9][10][11]. They have a mild aromatic flavour[K]. The leaves are often dried and ground into powder for later use[9][12][11]. The young shoots have been used to make a kind of beer[1].

The dried root bark can be boiled with sugar and water until it forms a thick paste[11]. It is then used as a condiment[11]. The root and the berries can also be used as flavourings[7][13]. Winter buds and young leaves - raw[8][11]. A tea is made from the root bark, it is considered to be a tonic[14][6][7][8]. The tea can also be made by brewing the root in maple syrup, this can be concentrated into a jelly[11]. A tea can also be made from the leaves and the roots. It is best in spring.

A tea can be made from the flowers[5].

Unknown part


Material uses

An essential oil is obtained from the bark of the root[15] and also from the fruits[1]. One hundred kilos of root chips yield one litre of essential oil under steam pressure - this oil comprises about 90% safrol[16]. The oil is medicinal and is also used in soaps, the coarser kinds of perfumery, toothpastes, soft drinks etc[1][17][18][9]. It is also used as an antiseptic in dentistry[15].

A yellow dye is obtained from the wood and the bark[1][19]. It is brown to orange[19]. The plant repels mosquitoes and other insects[14][6].

Wood - coarse-grained, soft, weak, fragrant, brittle, very durable in the soil. It weighs 31lb per cubic foot and is used for fence posts and items requiring lightness[17][9][20][21].

Unknown part

Medicinal uses(Warning!)

Sassafras has a long history of herbal use. It was widely employed by many native North American Indian tribes who used it to treat a wide range of complaints, valuing it especially for its tonic effect upon the body[22]. It is still commonly used in herbalism and as a domestic remedy.

The root bark and root pith are alterative, anodyne, antiseptic, aromatic, carminative, diaphoretic, diuretic, stimulant and vasodilator[1][23][17][2]. A tea made from the root bark is particularly renowned as a spring tonic and blood purifier as well as a household cure for a wide range of ailments such as gastrointestinal complaints, colds, kidney ailments, rheumatism and skin eruptions[4][24][22]. The mucilaginous pith from the twigs has been used as a poultice or wash for eye ailments and is also taken internally as a tea for chest, liver and kidney complaints[4].

An essential oil from the root bark is used as an antiseptic in dentistry and also as an anodyne[25]. The oil contains safrole, which is said to have carcinogenic activity and has been banned from use in American foods - though it is less likely to cause cancer than alcohol[4]. In large doses the oil is poisonous, causing dilated pupils, vomiting, stupor, collapse and kidney and liver damage[1][24]. The oil has been applied externally to control lice and treat insect bites, though it can cause skin irritation[24].


Ecosystem niche/layer

Canopy or Secondary canopy

Ecological Functions

Nothing listed.


Nothing listed.


Nothing listed.


Seed - best sown as soon as ripe in a cold frame[26]. Stored seed requires 4 months cold stratification at 4°c[27]. It is best sown as early in the year as possible. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots as soon as possible and grow them on in the greenhouse. One report says to harden off the plants as soon as possible[28], but young plants are frost-tender[29] and so we recommend growing them on in the greenhouse for their first winter and then planting them out in early summer. Give the young trees some protection for at least their first winter outdoors[K].

Root cuttings, taken from suckers, 1 - 2cm long taken in December. Plant horizontally in pots in a greenhouse[28].

Suckers in late winter. Plant straight out into their permanent positions[26].

Practical Plants is currently lacking information on propagation instructions of Sassafras albidum. Help us fill in the blanks! Edit this page to add your knowledge.


Requires a deep, fertile, well-drained, lime-free, near neutral soil in sun or light shade[29][26]. Does well in a woodland garden[30], especially in a sheltered position along the edge[26].

The plant is tender when young, the young shoots of older trees can also be damaged by late spring frosts[29][24]. A very ornamental plant[31] with a wide range of uses, it is occasionally cultivated and often gathered from the wild[15]. All parts of the tree contain essential oils and give off a pleasant spicy aroma when crushed[32]. The stem bark is highly aromatic, more so than the wood. The root stem bark is the most pleasant of all[16]. The flowers have a spicy perfume[16]. Trees are long-lived, moderately fast-growing and disease-free in the wild[21][32]. They can begin flowering when only 10 years old and good seed crops are usually produced every 2 - 3 years[32]. The trees spread by root suckers and can form thickets[32].

Although some flowers appear to be hermaphrodite, they are functionally either male or female and most trees are dioecious[32]. Both male and female plants must be grown if seed is required.


Problems, pests & diseases

Associations & Interactions

There are no interactions listed for Sassafras albidum. Do you know of an interaction that should be listed here? edit this page to add it.

Polycultures & Guilds

There are no polycultures listed which include Sassafras albidum.




None listed.


None listed.

Full Data

This table shows all the data stored for this plant.

Binomial name
Sassafras albidum
Imported References
Material uses & Functions
Edible uses
None listed.
Material uses
None listed.
Medicinal uses
None listed.
Functions & Nature
Provides forage for
Provides shelter for
Hardiness Zone
Heat Zone
full sun
light shade
Soil PH
Soil Texture
Soil Water Retention
Environmental Tolerances
    Native Climate Zones
    None listed.
    Adapted Climate Zones
    None listed.
    Native Geographical Range
    None listed.
    Native Environment
    None listed.
    Ecosystem Niche
    Root Zone Tendancy
    None listed.
    Deciduous or Evergreen
    Herbaceous or Woody
    Life Cycle
    Growth Rate
    Mature Size
    Flower Colour
    Flower Type

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    "image:Sassafras_albidum_Koeh-260.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki. "image:Sassafras_albidum_Koeh-260.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki.

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    1. ? Grieve. A Modern Herbal. Penguin ISBN 0-14-046-440-9 (1984-00-00)
    2. ? Mills. S. Y. The Dictionary of Modern Herbalism. ()
    3. ? Diggs, Jnr. G.M.; Lipscomb. B. L. & O'Kennon. R. J [Illustrated Flora of North Central Texas] Botanical Research Institute, Texas. (1999-00-00)
    4. ? Foster. S. & Duke. J. A. A Field Guide to Medicinal Plants. Eastern and Central N. America. Houghton Mifflin Co. ISBN 0395467225 (1990-00-00)
    5. ? Hedrick. U. P. Sturtevant's Edible Plants of the World. Dover Publications ISBN 0-486-20459-6 (1972-00-00)
    6. ? Riotte. L. Companion Planting for Successful Gardening. Garden Way, Vermont, USA. ISBN 0-88266-064-0 (1978-00-00)
    7. ? Harris. B. C. Eat the Weeds. Pivot Health (1973-00-00)
    8. ? Elias. T. and Dykeman. P. A Field Guide to N. American Edible Wild Plants. Van Nostrand Reinhold ISBN 0442222009 (1982-00-00)
    9. ? Sargent. C. S. Manual of the Trees of N. America. Dover Publications Inc. New York. ISBN 0-486-20278-X (1965-00-00)
    10. ? 10.010.1 Kavasch. B. Native Harvests. Vintage Books ISBN 0-394-72811-4 (1979-00-00)
    11. ? Facciola. S. Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants. Kampong Publications ISBN 0-9628087-0-9 (1990-00-00)
    12. ? 12.012.1 McPherson. A. and S. Wild Food Plants of Indiana. Indiana University Press ISBN 0-253-28925-4 (1977-00-00)
    13. ? 13.013.1 Brouk. B. Plants Consumed by Man. Academic Press ISBN 0-12-136450-x (1975-00-00)
    14. ? Philbrick H. and Gregg R. B. Companion Plants. Watkins (1979-00-00)
    15. ? Usher. G. A Dictionary of Plants Used by Man. Constable ISBN 0094579202 (1974-00-00)
    16. ? Genders. R. Scented Flora of the World. Robert Hale. London. ISBN 0-7090-5440-8 (1994-00-00)
    17. ? Uphof. J. C. Th. Dictionary of Economic Plants. Weinheim (1959-00-00)
    18. ? 18.018.1 Schery. R. W. Plants for Man. ()
    19. ? Grae. I. Nature's Colors - Dyes from Plants. MacMillan Publishing Co. New York. ISBN 0-02-544950-8 (1974-00-00)
    20. ? 20.020.1 Hill. A. F. Economic Botany. The Maple Press (1952-00-00)
    21. ? Vines. R.A. Trees of North Texas University of Texas Press. ISBN 0292780206 (1982-00-00)
    22. ? Moerman. D. Native American Ethnobotany Timber Press. Oregon. ISBN 0-88192-453-9 (1998-00-00)
    23. ? 23.023.1 Lust. J. The Herb Book. Bantam books ISBN 0-553-23827-2 (1983-00-00)
    24. ? Bown. D. Encyclopaedia of Herbs and their Uses. Dorling Kindersley, London. ISBN 0-7513-020-31 (1995-00-00)
    25. ? 25.025.1 Weiner. M. A. Earth Medicine, Earth Food. Ballantine Books ISBN 0-449-90589-6 (1980-00-00)
    26. ? Huxley. A. The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992. MacMillan Press ISBN 0-333-47494-5 (1992-00-00)
    27. ? Dirr. M. A. and Heuser. M. W. The Reference Manual of Woody Plant Propagation. Athens Ga. Varsity Press ISBN 0942375009 (1987-00-00)
    28. ? 28.028.1 Sheat. W. G. Propagation of Trees, Shrubs and Conifers. MacMillan and Co (1948-00-00)
    29. ? Bean. W. Trees and Shrubs Hardy in Great Britain. Vol 1 - 4 and Supplement. Murray (1981-00-00)
    30. ? Taylor. J. The Milder Garden. Dent (1990-00-00)
    31. ? F. Chittendon. RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956 Oxford University Press (1951-00-00)
    32. ? Elias. T. The Complete Trees of N. America. Field Guide and Natural History. Van Nostrand Reinhold Co. ISBN 0442238622 (1980-00-00)
    33. ? Fernald. M. L. Gray's Manual of Botany. American Book Co. (1950-00-00)

    "image:Sassafras_albidum_Koeh-260.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki.

    Facts about "Sassafras albidum"RDF feed
    Article is incompleteYes +
    Article requires citationsNo +
    Article requires cleanupYes +
    Belongs to familyLauraceae +
    Belongs to genusSassafras +
    Has common nameSassafras +
    Has drought toleranceIntolerant +
    Has edible partUnknown part + and Leaves +
    Has edible useSeasoning +, Unknown use + and Tea +
    Has fertility typeSelf sterile +
    Has flowers of typeDioecious +
    Has hardiness zone5 +
    Has imageSassafras albidum Koeh-260.jpg +
    Has lifecycle typePerennial +
    Has material partUnknown part +
    Has material useDye +, Essential +, Repellent + and Wood +
    Has mature height25 +
    Has mature width15 +
    Has medicinal partUnknown part +
    Has medicinal useAlterative +, Anodyne +, Antiseptic +, Aromatic +, Carminative +, Diaphoretic +, Diuretic +, Stimulant + and Vasodilator +
    Has primary imageSassafras_albidum_Koeh-260.jpg +
    Has search namesassafras albidum + and x +
    Has shade toleranceLight shade +
    Has soil ph preferenceAcid + and Neutral +
    Has soil teclayture preferenceClay +
    Has soil teloamyture preferenceLoamy +
    Has soil tesandyture preferenceSandy +
    Has soil water retention preferenceWell drained +
    Has sun preferenceFull sun +
    Has taxonomy nameSassafras albidum +
    Has water requirementsmoderate +
    Inhabits ecosystem nicheCanopy + and Secondary canopy +
    Is deciduous or evergreenDeciduous +
    Is herbaceous or woodyWoody +
    Is taxonomy typeSpecies +
    Tolerates nutritionally poor soilNo +
    Uses mature size measurement unitMeters +