Sassafras albidum Wild Sassafras

Easyliving Native Perennial Wildflowers Native Wild Flower Seeds and Plants
for Home Landscaping and Prairie Restorations

  Habitat Bloom Period Flower Color
small Yellow
Height Moisture Plant Spacing Lifespan
   Sun to 
 part Shade
April May  Black fruit in fall 15 to 60 feet  average to moist 10 to 20 ft Tree

Sassafras albidum Sassafras is the host plant for Spicebush
Click on pictures for larger images

Sassafras albidum Sassafras potted plants are $8.00 each plus boxing/shipping.

Potted Plants are available

The fruit is eaten by many species of birds, and the leaves are browsed by woodchucks, deer, rabbits, and bears. The leaves are also a primary food for a host of spectacular moths and butterflies, including the spicebush swallowtail.
Larval Host: Spicebush butterfly, Tiger swallow-tail, Palamedes butterflies, Pale Swallowtail.

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Sassfras seeds are not available at this time

Common sassafras, ague tree

Sassafras - From the Spanish name for Saxifrage, Salsafras
Sassafras - SASS-uh-frass
albidum  -

Sassafras alternate names -  White Sassafras, Ague Tree, Cinnamon Wood, Mitten Tree, Saloop, Smelling Stick

Lauraceae (Laurel Family)

 Uses    Ethnobotanic: All parts of the sassafras plant are spicy and aromatic.  The roots, bark, leaves, new shoots, and pith from the branches of sassafras were used extensively for a wide variety of purposes by may Native American tribes including the Cherokee, Chippewa, Choctaw, Creek, Delaware, Oklahoma, Houma, Iroquois, Koasati, Mohegan, Nanticoke, Rappahannock, and Seminole.  The medicinal uses of sassafras by Native Americans were many.  Infusions made from the bark of the roots were taken internally as a preventive to ward off fever, as well as a remedy to treat diarrhea, rheumatism, measles, and scarlet fever.  An infusion of the roots was used as a blood purifier, and as a dietary aid to treat “overfattness.”  Infusions of the plant were used as a cough medicine, mouthwash, and gargle for colds.  Root infusions were also used to treat fevers that occurred in women after giving birth and as a wash for eyesores.  Decoctions made from roots were used to treat heart troubles.  An infusion of the plant was mixed with whiskey and used for rheumatism, tapeworms, and as a blood remedy to purify the blood.  The leaves were made into a poultice that would be rubbed onto bee stings, wounds, cuts, sprained ankles, and bruises.  Nosebleeds were treated with a decoction made from the pith of new sprouts.  The pith from branches was made into a decoction used to wash and dress burns.  Infusions of the plant were used to treat lower chest pain, nausea, vomiting, indigestion, constipation and diarrhea.  The bark was used as an emetic purification after funeral ceremonies.  Bark infusions were given to babies and children to treat itching, enlarged eyes, fever, drooling, and loss of appetite.  Children with worms drank and were bathed in an infusion that included the bark of sassafras.  The plant was taken to treat gallstones and bladder pain.  In addition to this variety of medicinal uses, sassafras was used for food, construction and other purposes.  The leaves were used fresh as a spice, much like bay leaves, for flavoring in meat soups. Leaves were dried and pounded and used as a thickening agent and to add flavor to foods and soups.  “Filé”, made from the ground roots or leaves, is an important spice used today in Cajun foods, such as gumbo.  The white or red roots, made a pleasant-tasting tea, although the red roots were preferred.  The wood from the sassafras tree was used to make furniture.  The flowers were used as a fertilizer when planting beans.  The plant was used as a fragrance to scent soap. The bark contains oil of sassafras, an important flavoring. 

Wildlife: The fruits are readily eaten by wildlife.  Birds, such as quails, wild turkeys, kingbirds, crested flycatchers, mockingbirds, sapsuckers, pileated woodpeckers, yellowthroat warblers and phoebes eat the fruits and disperse the seeds.  Black bears, beaver, rabbits and squirrels eat the fruit, bark and wood.  White-tailed deer browse the twigs and foliage.

Other: Sassafras has been cultivated since 1630 for its leaves, bark, and wood.  The plants are used for tea, oil, and soap.  The heartwood is orange-brown and course-grained.  It is used for purposes requiring lightwood, such as boat construction, because it is soft but durable.

 Status - Please consult the PLANTS Web site and your State Department of Natural Resources for this plant’s current status (e.g. threatened or endangered species, state noxious status, and wetland indicator values).

 Description - General: Laurel Family (Lauraceae).  Sassafras is a native, perennial, deciduous shrub or tree.  The trees are short to medium-tall (9 to 18 m), and spread from 6 to 8 m.  Young trees have greenish bark.  Older trees have reddish brown bark that is rough, thick, and deeply ridged.  The leaves are alternate and variable in shape with either none or one to three lobes at the apex.  The two-lobed leaves are mitten-shaped.  The leaves are light, bright green during the summer and turn to bright yellow-orange and red-orange in the fall.  The trees are dioecious (a tree will have either male or female flowers) with fragrant flowers.  The female flowers (1cm across), borne on small, terminal clusters before the leaves, are without petals, but have six greenish-yellow sepals (3 to 5 mm long).  Male flowers are inconspicuous.  The female trees have small, oval fruits (6 to 10 mm) that are dark blue with thick, red stalks.  The leaf buds appear at the same time the tree flowers in early spring.  The fruits ripen in the fall.

Distribution: Sassafras is native to the eastern United States.  For current distribution, please consult the Plant Profile page for this species on the PLANTS Web site.

Habitat: This plant is a pioneer tree on disturbed sites in its native range.  It is adapted to various soils with low pH.  It can be found in woodlands, fields and along roadsides.

Establishment -  Sassafras trees are valued for their fragrant spring bloom, interesting horizontal branching pattern, and striking fall color.  The small trees are medium to fast growing and work well for landscape use as specimen trees and mass plantings.  They are easy to culture and require little care.  Although adapted to dry, sandy soils, they do best in moist, fertile soils in partial to full shade.  Seeds, root-cuttings or suckers may propagate sassafras trees.  Seeds are produced every one or two years after the plant reaches the minimum seed-bearing age of ten years.  Seeds may be gathered when the fruits turn a dark blue.  Seeds should be cleaned and stored at cool temperatures where they will last for up to two years.  The seeds require prechilling for 120 days in order to germinate.  Sow the seeds .5 to 1.5 cm deep in prepared beds in the late fall.  The plants do not transplant well because of a deep taproot.  It is therefore best to purchase young plants that have been grown in containers for successful transplanting.

 Management - The trees can form dense thickets from sucker growth.  These thickets can be quite striking in color during the fall months.  If a single stem is desired, remove the suckers that develop.  Mowing can easily control the suckers.  The tree may be pruned in the winter to remove dead wood.

Pests and Potential Problems --  The trees can develop a variety of insect and disease problems that are generally not serious.  Insects will eat the foliage, but rarely eat the entire leaves.  The plants may experience root rot if grown in wet, clay soils. 

Sassfras potted plants are $8.00 each plus UPS shipping.
email with your zip code and number of plants for availability and shipping charges on potted plants 

The map below shows areas where native Sassafras albidum trees grow wild but they can be planted and will grow over most of the Midwest and Eastern US.  USDA plant hardiness zones 3 to 9.

Sassfras albidum 


New Hampshire
New Jersey
New York
North Carolina

South Carolina
Rhode Island
West Virginia

 Plant distribution map complements of USDA, NRCS. 2001. The PLANTS Database, Version 3.1
  ( National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70874-4490 USA.

Please contact us by email for availability and shipping charges on Sassafras albidum Sassafras  potted plants

to order copy and mail the order form
email questions, comments and orders to

Sassafras albidum seeds are NOT available at this time.  Sassfras seeds are best when planted fresh in the fall and do not germinate until the next spring.

We accept payment by check, money order, and through Paypal

Use the chart below for shipping charges on our other native wild flower seeds,
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subtotal for flower seeds 

shipping charge for seeds

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Lauraceae (laurels)
A short to medium-sized tree, often forming colonies from root sprouts, with a columnar canopy, a flattened crown, and contorted branches that turn upward at their ends.

Leaves alternate, simple, aromatic when crushed, 4–6 inches long, 2–4 inches wide, broadest at the middle; having 3 shapes (entire; with a single lobe on one side like a mitten; or trident-shaped), tip pointed or rounded, base tapered.

Bark aromatic, reddish-brown to gray, with deep grooves and firm, long, flat-topped ridges.

Twigs moderately stout, curved upward at the tips, yellowish-green becoming greenish-brown with age; broken twigs have a spicy odor.

Flowers April–May. Male and female flowers occur on separate trees in stalked, branched clusters about 2 inches long, at the tips of twigs; flowers small, yellow, petals absent; sepals 6, spreading.

Fruits in late August–October. Berrylike, widest at the middle, about ½ inch long, dark blue, shiny, attached to a swollen stalk; stalk about 1½ inches long, red.

Height: to 60 feet.

Occurs on the border of dry woods, glades, prairies, and in bottomland soils in valleys; also along roadsides, railroads, idle fields, pastures, fence rows, and thickets. Long in cultivation, sassafras requires full sun for best growth. One of our most striking and aromatic trees.

Long considered a source for medicinal tea, and an ingredient in traditional root beers and in Creole cooking, the presence of carcinogenic compounds has been banned in commercially mass-produced foods and drugs.
Human connections
Root tea has long been used as a folk remedy for a variety of ailments. However, safrole, an oil in sassafras, causes cancer in laboratory animals, and the FDA has banned use sassafras tea, roots, and oil in commercially mass-produced foods and drugs. A pleasant tree in cultivation, the leaves of sassafras are colorful in autumn. The wood has many uses, too.

The fruit is eaten by many species of birds, and the leaves are browsed by woodchucks, deer, rabbits, and bears. The leaves are also a primary food for a host of spectacular moths and butterflies, including the spicebush swallowtail.

The aromatic sassafras is a 35-50 ft., deciduous tree with horizontal branching in cloud-like tiers. The mahogany-brown bark is deeply ridged and furrowed. Little bunches of yellow-green flower balls are scattered profusely over the female tree; more sparsely on the male. Dark-blue fruits on scarlet stalks appear on female plants in late summer. Bright-green, mitten-shaped, oval, or three-lobed leaves have outstanding fall color.

The roots and root bark supply oil of sassafras (used to perfume soap) and sassafras tea, and have been used to flavor root beer. Explorers and colonists thought the aromatic root bark was a panacea, or cure-all, for diseases and shipped quantities to Europe. The greenish twigs and leafstalks have a pleasant, spicy, slightly gummy taste. Sassafras apparently is the American Indian name used by the Spanish and French settlers in Florida in the middle of the 16th century. This is the northernmost New World representative of an important family of tropical timbers.

Description: Sow seed outdoors in the fall or stratify the seed and sow in spring. Sassafras may be multiplied from root cuttings taken in early spring before the plant leafs out. Sassafras freely produces root suckers which can be dug and moved. Dig around the suc
Seed Collection: Collect the fruits when they are filled out and dark blue. Only a small percentage of sassafras trees bear fruit. Clean the seeds before planting or storage. Briefly air dry. (Do not overdry if they are to be planted immediately. Store in sealed, refrigerated containers.
Seed Treatment: Stratify at 41 degrees for 30-60 days.