top of page


     For a small, sometimes shrubby, tree Sassafras has a powerful impact on pollinators.  It's larval host to dozens of butterfly and moth species including the Spicebush and Palamedes swallowtails, and the Imperial Moth.


     Sassafras makes a nice shade tree, or it can be left to colonize and used as a screen. Its yellow spring flowers are attractive and fragrant, and in the fall blue-black drupes ripen on female trees and hang on red stalks.  In fact, Sassafras is one of the East's few large berry producers.


     The leaves are one of the tree's major charms.  Leaves can have three lobes, or two like a mitten, or none at all.  Like Blackgum, these leaves turn brilliant oranges and reds in the fall.


     Sassafras' leaves, roots and bark emit a spicy aroma and were once used to make root beer and Sassafras tea -- but not anymore since the oils have been found to be carcinogenic.


     Sassafras occurs naturally wood margins, fields, thickets and along fence rows.


     Fun fact: Sassafras' roots were so highly valued by Europeans in the 1600s the earliest explorers arrive in what became New England to gather the roots, distill the oils and make a restorative tonic (W. Cullina, Native Trees, Shrubs & Vines).


     For more information, read my blog on Sassafras here


3 Gallons
    • Latin: Sassafras albidum
    • Pollinator value: Very High
    • Family: Lauraceae, Laurel (known for its fragrant oils)
    • Current height: 2-3 feet
    • Mature height: Up to 30 feet and sometimes taller; 12- to 25-foot spread
    • Growth rate: Fast, 2 feet per year
    • Light: Full to part sun
    • Soil: Moist or dry
    • Bloom: Spring, gold/yellow racimes, fragrant
    • Fruit: June-September, bluish-black, on female trees
    • Foliage: Brilliant fall; multiple shapes
    • Landscape: Shade, specimen, screen (if allowed to colonize)
    • Resistance: Black Walnut, deer
    • More information and native range here
bottom of page