The Sassafras tree (Sassafras albidium) grows most prevalently in the southeastern part of the United States. It has three different-shaped leaves, and its wood is used for furniture, boat building and fencing.

More notable are the tree's bark and roots. In the late 16th century, Sassafras bark was very valuable for its medicinal applications. Sassafras bark and roots were used in the making of root beer and tea, and folklore says drinking Sassafras tea helps thin the blood. More recently, the FDA has banned the sale of Sassafras root tea due to Safrole, which is found in the Sassafras root, causing liver cancer in laboratory rats. Sassafras oil is sold for aromatherapy purposes.

Some of my earliest memories are of my father carrying me on his shoulders as we walked through the forest where he would invariably strip Sassafras bark from a thin branch and let me chew on the aromatic wood. Sassafrass has a very unique smell and flavor, very sweet and (for lack of a better term) clean.

Sas"sa*fras (?), n. [F. sassafras (cf. It. sassafrasso, sassafras, Sp. sasafras, salsafras, salsifrax, salsifragia, saxifragia), fr. L. saxifraga saxofrage. See Saxifrage.] Bot.

An American tree of the Laurel family (Sassafras officinale); also, the bark of the roots, which has an aromatic smell and taste.

Australian sassafras, a lofty tree (Doryophora Sassafras) with aromatic bark and leaves. -- Chilian sassafras, an aromatic tree (Laurelia sempervirens). -- New Zealand sassafras, a similar tree (Laurelia Novae Zelandiae). -- Sassafras nut. See Pichurim bean. -- Swamp sassafras, the sweet bay (Magnolia glauca). See Magnolia.


© Webster 1913.

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.