(Sassafras albidum/Lauraceae) is composed of three species native to North America , China 
and Taiwan . Sassafras, a Native American word used by the Spanish and French in Florida
in the mid 16th century, was firstbrought to England from the
Virginia Colony by Sir Walter Raleighin 1587. In 1602 and 1603,
several English ships were sent to the colonies to collect sassafras
roots; . these forays were known as the Great Sassafras Hunts.
Other common names include; ague-tree, black ash, cinnamon wood,
common sassafras, file-gumbo, gumbo-file, red sassafras, sasafras,
sassafac, sassafrac, sassafras, sassafrasso, saxifrax, saxifrax
tree, smelling-stick, wah-en-nah-kas, white sassafras.
range extends from Maine through Ontario, Michigan, Iowa, and
Kansas, to Florida and Texas. The tree can reach a height of 90
ft (27 m) and a diameter of 5 ft (1.5 m). The shape of the leaves
vary on the same tree, from simple (entire) to mitten-shape to
tri-lobed. Greenish-yellow flowers appear in the spring and bright
red, yellow, and orange foliage in the fall. Sassafras has thick,
deeply furrowed, dark red-brown bark . Trees are either male or
female, and the fruits are olive-shaped to spherical, with a dark
skin and thin flesh. A pioneer species, sassafras is the first
to invade abandoned fields, spreading asexually by root runners
to form small groves.
Sassafras heartwood, pale
brown to orange brown, resembles ash or chestnut; with narrow
yellowish-white sapwood. The wood has a spicy aromatic odor. Coarse-grained,
straight, brittle and soft,sassafras is easily worked and takes
a finish well. It glues well and holds screws better than nails.
Sassafras is good for fence posts and the sills of houses, since
it is very resistant to heartwood decay in exposed, damp conditions.
It is used for lumber, furniture, posts, fence rails and posts,
kindling, boxes, cooperage (slack), general millwork, small boats,
oil from root bark, colonial dye (orange) from bark.
Characteristics found in the Sassafras (Sassafras
- Ring porous
- Coalesced/Confluent parenchyma
- Simple perforations
- I/V pits medium (8-12)
- Rays 1-4 seriate & homocellular to heterocellular
- Oil cells in rays & axial parenchyma
- Crystals in rays and axial parenchyma
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