Friday, November 16, 2007

Rainbow Sassafras

Last Autumn timing and weather prevented me from capturing the sassafras colors for Arboreality. This year – I was determined! Several little sassafras (Sassafras albidum) trees are tucked in the shadow of the stone silo here at the farm. Their colors did not disappoint.


  1. How pretty, thanks for sharing! Is this the same plant that they use for the well-known tea?

  2. Nice. I don't know that I've seen it aas a living plant previously.

  3. Geraldine, I hadn't heard about sassafras tea, so I did a little research: apparently, sassafras tea is created from the young roots of the sassafras tree (Sassafras Albidum), where the concentration of safrole (an oily liquid) is highest in the plant. Now I really want to try some tea, and see how it tastes!

    Wren, I just LOVE sassafras. I hadn't seen any (at least, not that I recognized) before moving to Pennsylvania, and they really have a lot of character - not to mention major autumn color!

  4. One must be careful, and informed, when using Sassafras as an herbal agent. There is conflicting, and incomplete, evidence that safrol has carcinogenic properties.

    Use with caution, preferably the whole herb rather than the oil.

    I prefer to gaze upon it instead of ingesting it, but that's just me.

  5. Right you are Jesse - in fact, the place where I confirmed the question of the tea was a family medicine article discussing the carcinogenic properties. Apparently, it's a controlled substance as well.

    And of course I agree again - I'm quite satisfied to enjoy looking at them. :)


  6. Have you ever had sassafrass tea? My mom made it for us when I was was kinda like root beer. Go to for "Pappy's Sassafrass Tea" concentrate to check it out! Or make your own :)

  7. Lisa, I've never tried sassafras tea, but from what I've read online, folks who enjoyed sassafras tea growing up still enjoy it today. I admit, I am 100% curious! :D Thanks for the link.

  8. Jade, good to see you're still at it!

    Wikipedia says that consumables containing more than a specific small amounts of safrole were banned by the U.S. and Canada in 1960, based on animal studies and human case reports.

    It also says sassafras is used in the production of Ecstasy! Yikes! That's quite a versatile plant, eh?

  9. Hi Trailhead! Versatile indeed - when I posted this picture, I had no idea I'd be learning more about the uses (and misuses) of sassafras. I've learned more than I ever expected to by blogging about trees!


  10. It's interesting that so many plants can have medicinal AND dangerous components. Apricot kernels come to mind, used in Laitrol (sp?) and notably by the Hunza people, who live in the Himalayas (with no cancer rate recorded at last report) as a base for teas and included in other foods. Apricot kernels at the same time are considered dangerous if taken in large quantities.

    Appears to be the case with sassafras too. Ive heard references to the tea repeatedly, first time I heard of potential dangers.


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