Sassafras albidum (Sassafras)

Tried and True Native Plant Selections for the Mid-Atlantic 

Sassafras offers three-season interest: globelike clusters of chartreuse flowers in spring, leaves with three distinct shapes, dark blue fruit in red cups in summer, and foliage ranging from orange to crimson to purple in fall. This native is common in wood edges throughout the Mid-Atlantic Region except for the northern border of Pennsylvania.

Print Version (Legal Size): Sassafras albidum (Sassafras)
Sassafras albidum, Sassafras Tree: Height: 35–50 feet; Spread: 35–50 feet; Bloom Color: Chartreuse yellow. Characteristics: Deciduous tree with an irregular, often twisted trunk and flat-topped crown; dioecious; Mitten-shaped, oval, or 3-lobed green leaves; Small, fragrant showy flowers in globe-like clusters along 2-inch stalks in April; Shiny, dark blue egg-shaped drupes in a red cup attached to red, upright stalks on female trees; Yellow, orange, crimson or purple fall color; Can form thickets if suckers are not controlled. Attributes: Tolerates clay soil and drought; averse to transplantation due to large tap root; No serious pests or diseases; deer seldom severely damage but may browse twigs & foliage; Ethnobotanic uses; all parts spicy and aromatic; Attracts birds, butterflies; larval host for Eastern Tiger and Spicebush Swallowtails and moths like Imperial, Io, Promethea and Tulip-Tree Beauty. Growing and Maintenance Tips: Soil Requirements: Rich, evenly moist; Light Requirements: Sun, Partial Shade; Water Requirements: Dry, Moist; Use as specimen (remove root suckers to grow single trunk) or screen (allow plant to colonize); Hardiness: USDA Zones 4–9. Excellent Replacement for Ailanthus altissima - Tree of Heaven, Broussonetia papyrifera - Paper Mulberry, Morus alba - White Mulberry, and Sapium sebiferum - Chinese Tallow Tree

Learn more about other Mid-Atlantic plants: Tried and True Plant Fact Sheets.