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Common Sassafras

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Common Sassafras (Sassafras albidum) – A native woodland tree with interesting foliage shaped like hands or mittens, which turns a myriad of exciting fall colors; appreciates shade and grows well in deep woods; needs adequate moisture and shelter, protect from drying winds


Average Landscape Height:
40 feet
Average Landscape Width:
20 feet
Growth Rate:
Summer Foliage Color:
dark green
Fall Color:
indian red
Minimum Light:
full sun
Maximum Light:
full sun
Minimum Moisture:
Maximum Moisture:
Plant Form:
late winter pruning
Pollution Tolerance:
Other Species Names:

Ornamental Features

Sassafras features delicate racemes of lightly-scented lemon yellow flowers at the ends of the branches in early spring before the leaves. It has light green deciduous foliage. The lobed leaves turn an outstanding scarlet in the fall. The furrowed brick red bark adds an interesting dimension to the landscape.

Landscape Attributes

Sassafras is a deciduous tree with a distinctive and refined pyramidal form. Its average texture blends into the landscape, but can be balanced by one or two finer or coarser trees or shrubs for an effective composition.

Planting & Growing

Sassafras will grow to be about 35 feet tall at maturity, with a spread of 20 feet. It has a high canopy with a typical clearance of 6 feet from the ground, and should not be planted underneath power lines. As it matures, the lower branches of this tree can be strategically removed to create a high enough canopy to support unobstructed human traffic underneath. It grows at a medium rate, and under ideal conditions can be expected to live for 70 years or more.

This tree performs well in both full sun and full shade. It prefers to grow in average to moist conditions, and shouldn't be allowed to dry out. It is not particular as to soil type, but has a definite preference for acidic soils, and is subject to chlorosis (yellowing) of the foliage in alkaline soils. It is quite intolerant of urban pollution, therefore inner city or urban streetside plantings are best avoided. This species is native to parts of North America.