Sassafras albidum

Scientific name: Sassafras albidum

Author: (Nutt.) Nees.

Common name: Sassafras

Family: Lauraceae


Sassafras albidum   


Venture to the roadway below the Brunet Pavilion and there are delights aplenty. Surrounded by conifers from North America, the Sassafras, though small, is aglow with fiery celebration.

From seed, wild collected in Montgomery County, Maryland, United States in 1980, this specimen was planted in 1985. Deep fissured bark may add to its charm in later life however, the sometimes-lobed and richly autumn toned leaves will always give pleasure. Reaching 10 metres or more, the aromatic leaved sassafras is prone to suckering and prefers a deep, rich, well-drained soil. A ‘spring tonic’ was made in bygone years from the roots and bark. The Choctaw Indians of Louisiana used a powder prepared from the leaves to flavour gumbo soup and the distilled oil is employed as a perfume.

Widespread and common in the warm, moist late Cretaceous to mid Tertiary periods the plant family Lauraceae has many ‘primitive’ characteristics and is closely related to the family Monimiacae [Atherospermataceae] to which the aromatic, native Sassafras, Doryphora sassafras and the Black or Southern Sassafras, Atherosperma moschatum belong.