Sassafras albidum (Nutt.) Nees - Sassafras

Sassafras albidum plant

Family - Lauraceae

Stems - No info yet.

Sassafras albidum twigTwig.

Leaves - No info yet.

Sassafras albidum leaves

Sassafras albidum budLeaf bud in winter.

Inflorescence - No info yet.

Sassafras albidum inflorescence

Flowers - No info yet.

Sassafras albidum flower

Flowering - April - May.

Habitat - Dry acid soils on the borders of woods and prairies, borders of glades, fence rows, fallow fields, thickets, roadsides, railroads.

Origin - Native to U.S.

Other info. - This attractive tree can be found basically in the southern 3/4 of Missouri. The plant can be identified by its green and black twigs, divided leaves, and bright yellow flowers. The tree is usually dioecious with individual plants having either male or female flowers. The close-up flower picture above is of a staminate flower.
The plant is usually found in colonies as it suckers freely at the base.
This species was and is used medicinally for a variety of ailments. The root and bark are boiled into a tea used as a blood tonic and purifier. The tea is also thought to treat high blood pressure, kidney ailments, colds, fevers, and rheumatism. The pith of the twigs was used as a poultice for eye ailments. The pith was also taken internally for kidney and liver troubles. In southern U.S. cooking the pith was ground into a powder and used to thicken soups (gumbo). This thickener is known as "file'" or "filet."
The wood of Sassafras is hard and was used in the past for fence posts and railroad cross-ties. A lack of large trees has mostly stopped these uses. Some wood is still collected for furniture use.

Photographs taken at the Whetstone Conservation Area, Callaway County, MO., 2-25-04, and in the Piney Creek Wilderness, Mark Twain National Forest, Barry County, MO., 4-3-04.