Sassafras Tree Pictures, Information on the Sassafras Tree Species
Welcome to our sassafras tree pictures page. On this page you will find lots of nice pictures of sassafras trees. You will also find a lot of wonderful information on sassafras trees, including information about the sassafras tree species, planting information, and much more. This is valuable and useful information that can help you to learn more about the sassafras tree.
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Here is some detailed information on the sassafras tree.
Sassafras is a genus of three extant and one extinct species of deciduous trees in the family Lauraceae, native to eastern North America and eastern Asia.
Sassafras trees grow from 9.1 to 18 m (30 to 59 ft) tall and spreading 7.6 to 12 m (25 to 39 ft) The trunk grows 70 to 150 cm (28 to 59 in) 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, hard, and sometimes 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 to 20 cm long by 5 to 10 cm broad.
The young leaves and twigs are quite mucilaginous, and produce a citrus-like scent 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 largest Sassafras tree in the United States is located in Owensboro, Kentucky, which measures over 100 feet high and 21 feet in circumference.
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.
Steam distillation of dried root bark produces an essential oil consisting mostly of safrole that once was extensively used as a fragrance in perfumes and soaps, food and for aromatherapy. The yield of this oil from American sassafras is quite low and great effort is needed to produce useful amounts of the root bark. Sassafras extract was a primary ingredient in root beer. Commercial "sassafras oil" generally is a by-product of camphor production in Asia or comes from related trees in Brazil. Safrole is a precursor for the clandestine manufacture of the drug MDMA (ecstasy), as well as the drug MDA (3 to 4 Methylenedioxyamphetamine) and as such, its transport is monitored internationally.
Sassafras leaves and twigs are consumed by white-tailed deer in both summer and winter. In some areas it is an important deer food.
The dried and ground leaves are used to make filé powder, an ingredient used in some types of gumbo.
The roots of Sassafras can be steeped to make tea and were used in the flavoring of traditional root beer until being banned for mass production by the FDA. Laboratory animals that were given oral doses of sassafras tea or sassafras oil that contained large doses of safrole developed permanent liver damage or various types of cancer. In humans liver damage can take years to develop and it may not have obvious signs. Along with commercially available sarsaparilla, sassafras remains an ingredient in use among hobby or microbrew enthusiasts.
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