1 yellowwood tree with brittle wood and aromatic leaves and bark; source of sassafras oil; widely distributed in eastern North America [syn: sassafras tree, Sassafras albidum]
2 dried root bark of the sassafras tree
EtymologyFrom sasafras, possibly from saxifragus from the habit of certain plants growing in cracks in boulders.
- A tree of species Sassafras albidum of the eastern United States and Asia having mitten-shaped leaves and red, aromatic heartwood.
- A tree of any species in the genus Sassafras.
- The bark of the root of this plant, used for medicinal and (mostly historically) culinary purposes and formerly a main ingredient in root beer.
- specieslite Sassafras
Sassafras is a genus of four species of deciduous trees in the family Lauraceae, native to eastern North America and eastern Asia.
Sassafras trees grow from 15–35 m (50–120 feet) tall and 70–150 cm (2.5–6 feet) in diameter, with many slender branches, and smooth, orange-brown bark. The branching is sympodial. The bark of the mature trunk is thick, red-brown, and deeply furrowed. The wood is light, soft, weak, and brittle. All parts of the plants are very fragrant. The species are unusual in having three distinct leaf patterns on the same plant, unlobed oval, bilobed (mitten-shaped), and trilobed (three pronged; rarely the leaves can be five-lobed). They have smooth margins and grow 7–20 cm long by 5–10 cm broad. The young leaves and twigs are quite mucilaginous, and produce a scent similar to lemons when crushed. The tiny, yellow flowers are five-petaled and bloom in the spring; they are dioecious, with male and female flowers on separate trees. The fruit are blue-black, egg-shaped, 1 cm long, produced on long, red-stalked cups, and mature in late summer.
The name "Sassafras", applied by the botanist Nicolas Monardes in the sixteenth century, is said to be a corruption of the Spanish word for saxifrage.
- Sassafras albidum (Nuttall) Nees - Sassafras, White Sassafras, Red Sassafras or Silky Sassafras. Eastern North America, from southernmost Ontario,Canada through the eastern United States south to central Florida, and west to southern Iowa and eastern Texas.
- Sassafras tzumu (Hemsl.) Hemsl. - Chinese Sassafras or Tzumu. Central and southwestern China. It differs from S. albidum in the leaves being more frequently three-lobed, the lobes having a tapered acuminate apex (not rounded to weakly acute).
- Sassafras randaiense (Hayata) Rehd. - Taiwanese Sassafras. Taiwan. Treated by some botanists in a distinct genus as Yushunia randaiensis (Hayata) Kamikoti, though this is not supported by recent genetic evidence which shows the genus to be monophyletic.
Sassafras tea can also be used as blood thinner.
Sassafras was a commodity prized in Europe as a cure for Gonorrhea.
sassafras in German: Sassafras
sassafras in Spanish: Sasafrás
sassafras in French: Sassafras
sassafras in Dutch: Sassafras
sassafras in Portuguese: Sassafras
sassafras in Russian: Сассафрас