Spotlight on the Sassafras Tree
Though the Sassafras tree is native to North America, many people consider it quite the novelty. The tree has 3 distinctive leaf patterns on the same plant: Oval, mitten and 3-pronged.
This hardy tree, which shows yellow leaves in the spring, green in the summer and yellow to fiery orange in the fall, has been used for many purposes throughout time. Native Americans used its leaves and roots for medicinal and aromatic purposes. Tea is often made from its roots and is the main ingredient that flavors Root Beer. Sassafras leaves are also used in Creole cuisine to add a licorice-like flavor.
If you are considering planting a Sassafras tree, find a space that is sunny to partial shade. This area should accommodate a tree that could reach 30 feet in height with a 20-foot spread.
You can grow from seed by planting in cool soil in the fall. It will stay dormant until the spring when its tap root will begin to form. For those less who are less patient, start with a sapling in a container from a garden center. Successfully transplanting a Sassafras tree is difficult due to the tree’s long tap root.