Sassafras albidum

Sassafras Sassafras albidum is a medium size (30’ – 50’ X 15’) dioecious, deciduous tree that occurs in sandy woods, at forest edges, and in disturbed areas such as roadsides and old fields across most of Louisiana, except the southeastern parishes. Its bright-green, mitten-shaped leaves are used to make “file’” by the Acadians of South Louisiana, and its bark, which along with its twigs and roots are aromatic, can be used to make a yellow dye.

Female plants display small clusters of yellow-green flowers March – April, and bear dark-blue fruit in late Summer. Sassafras grows best in sun to shade and in rich, moist but well-drained, sandy loam soils; but it tolerates disturbed sites with infertile soils. It is allelopathic and can discourage growth of other plants within its root zone.

Sassafras is a host plant for the caterpillars of the Spicebush, Tiger Swallow-tail, Palamedes, and Pale Swallowtail butterflies. Its fruit is eaten by deer, turkey, bear, and many species of birds. Use Sassafras as an ornamental accent tree or in a mass planting to benefit wildlife.

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