Sassafras albidum



Hardiness Zones:

 4a  4b  5a  5b  6a  6b  7a  7b  8a  8b  9a  9b

Quick Overview:

Sassafras albidum, commonly called sassafras, is a native, ornamental, small to medium-sized deciduous tree which occurs in wood margins, fence rows, fields, thickets and roadsides. Shrubby in youth, but matures to a dense, pyramidal tree up to 60′ tall. Spreads by root suckers to form large colonies in the wild. All of the trees in a colony may rise from the same parent. Dioecious (separate male and female trees). Attractive, greenish-yellow flowers appear in clusters at the branch ends in spring. Flowers on female trees (if pollinated) give way to small clusters of bluish-black berries. Fruits mature in September. Variable, 4-7″ long leaves in three shapes (ovate, mitten-shaped and three-lobed) are bright green above and glaucous (albidum meaning white) below. Excellent yellow, purple and red fall color. To Native Americans, sassafras oils were freely used in tonics as medical panaceas. Culinary uses have included: sassafras tea (bark), root beer flavoring (root oil) and a gumbo-thickening agent called filé (stem pith). More recently, sassafras oils have been determined to contain a carcinogenic substance (safrole) and many of the former uses for the oils are now banned by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.


Easily grown in average, medium, well-drained soil in full sun to part shade. Prefers moist, acidic, loamy soils. Tolerates dry, sandy soils. Large taproot makes transplanting of established trees difficult. If root suckers are not removed, tree will spread and begin to take on the appearance of a large multi-stemmed shrub.

Additional information

Common Name


Botanical Name

Sassafras albidum


3 gallon

Evergreen or Deciduous


Hardiness Zone

4a, 4b, 5a, 5b, 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b, 9a, 9b

Growth Rate


Light Requirements

Part-shade, Part-sun, Sun


30 to 50 ft.



Soil Condition


Water Needs

Average to low

Blooming Period


Flower Color

greenish yellow



Foliage Color


Deer Resistant


Berry Color


Fall Color

Yellow, purple and red

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