Sassafras

Sassafras

sassafras albidum

Sassafras is a

  • Plant type: Perennial
  • Other names:
  • Medicinal: Yes
  • Culinary: No
  • Ceremonial: No
  • Parts Used: Leaves
  • Side Effects: Do not use in pregnancy
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About Sassafras

Sassafras albidum, commonly known as sassafras, is a quintessential medium-sized tree that portrays beauty and elegance all seasons of the year. Its mature height ranges from 50 to 65 feet with a wide trunk and vast canopy.

Sassafras has greenish-yellow, mitten-shaped leaves that sit proudly over highly-poised branches. The fat terminal buds give rise to loose, droopy flowers that are yellow. The sassafras tree is dioecious i.e. male and female flowers are found on separate trees.

The whole plant, including stems, leaves, twigs, flowers, bark, root, and fruit are utilized in aromatic, culinary, and medicinal respects. It works wonders in reducing the swelling of the nose and throat; helps support urinary tract infections, syphilis, bronchitis, gout, hypertension, skin issues, arthritis, and even cancer. Sassafras tea is known to purify the blood, improve the systemic circulation, bolsters the deficient immune system, clears the blurred vision, and is a potent treatment for sprain too. 

In the culinary field, the leaves and twigs can either be eaten raw or added to soups to spark some flavor. Its earthy flavor adds remarkable notes of anise and lemon to the dish, making the dish notably delicious.

Growing

Sassafras is a wonderful aromatic tree that offers a magnificent autumn display with its leaves turning yellow/orange. They can be started indoors as a bushy thicket or as a tree in a garden bed.

The seeds should be sown a week before the final frost of spring or during early fall when the soil is cool. As for indoor plants, a deep pot is needed because sassafras possesses a deep tap root system. Sassafras prefers well-drained, moist, loamy soil with acidic pH. A mature sassafras plant is liable to tolerate drought but the seeds are required to stay moist until they sprout.

Also, minimum of 4 hours of unfiltered sunlight exposure proves to be quite fruitful for the robust growth of the sassafras plant.

Owing to the fact that sassafras shows an increment of more than 24 inches per year, so it is considered as a fast-growing plant. However, the seeds take forever to sprout as they require a long dormancy interval which usually lasts 120 days. After sprouting, the shoots that tear past the ground are bright yellowish-green initially. As time passes, the shoots turn depict some darker shades of brown.

Sassafras give rise to bright yellow flowers that call for bees to attempt cross-pollination. The pollination is closely followed by fertilization and the formation of fruits that bear seeds. These fruits are immensely cheered among birds, deer, bears, and wild turkey. With a bit probing, the seeds get dispersed by the animals to start their own plants.

Harvesting

The root and bark of sassafras can be harvested all year round but there are some special moments to obtain their potential oil. The bark of sassafras is harvest when the sap is flowing. This usually takes place during the time between spring and early summer. The roots are also harvested from mid to late February or even during the early weeks of March.

The leaves of Sassafras are allowed to be harvested only during spring, summer, and early fall.

The leaves, roots, bark, and leaves are zealously harvested all around the native USDA zones with a sharp pair of gardening shears.

The sassafras root bark is susceptible to mold, so they are supposed to be readily dried by making use of sunlight, furnace, and oven. The pieces of root bark are turned back frequently to avoid mold growth and ensure proper drying.

The leaves, on the other hand, are dried away from the direct sunlight in a well-ventilated space. Within a week, the leaves are crispy and ready to be stored in an airtight container.

Usage

From growing at the woodland edges to native backyards, sassafras has become dearest to all the plant lovers. It is excessively used in medicinal preparations to acquire its high-prized perks.

  • Tincture - Infuse fresh or dried chopped sassafras leaves in grain alcohol for 4 to 6 weeks. Strain the liquid and place it in a dark and dry place.
  • Tea - Dried sassafras root bark is steeped in hot boiling water for at least half an hour to form sassafras tea.
  • Decoction - Dried sassafras root bark is boiled in water until the volume of water becomes half from the one originally taken to form sassafras decoction.
  • Salve - Sassafras infused oil is employed in making healing salves.
  • Syrup - Dried root bark or leaves are simmered with sugar solution and strained to form sassafras syrup.
  • Infused oil - Sassafras dried root bark pieces are chopped and allowed to sit in a carrier oil for 2 to 3 weeks to yield sassafras oil.