Common Sassafras

Sassafras albidum

The sassafras was one of the first items traded between the Colonies and England. White men thought the Indian's "smelling stick" was a cure for disease and especially chills and fever. Today tea is made from the roots and bark. It is drunk as a spring tonic to clear the blood. The bark and roots also provide oil for flavoring root beer and perfumed soap. Chew on a new leaf for a bit of the flavor. These leaves are a delight for children who love to look for "mittens." Some leaves come with thumb lobes in both right and left-handed models. Other leaves will have two lobes or no lobes at all. The fall color varying from yellow to deep purple makes this a beautiful ornamental tree. This slender tree with the small horizontal branches belongs to the Laurel family of spicy aromatic trees, bay-cinnamon, camphor, and spice bark.