The Assateague
Naturalist

Picture
Picture Sassafras Tree (Sassafras albidum)

The roots, bark, and leaves of the sassafras have a spicy scent and the oils extracted from them have been used in soapmaking and in flavoring drinks, such as sassafras tea.

Four different leaf shapes can be found on one sassafras tree: three lobed, elliptical, two lobed/right side, and two lobed/left side (upper photo). The deciduous leaves can grow up to six inches by four inches, and the tree itself may grow up to about 30 feet on Assateague, and even up to 60 feet elsewhere. In the spring, small yellowish green flowers develop with the leaves; oval-shaped, blue fruits of less than half an inch follow.

Sassafras is common throughout the eastern U.S. The photo was made near Swan Cove along the trail leading from the refuge's Wildlife Loop to the main road (map).

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