Sassafras albidum
Photo: Sassafras
Britton & Brown
Botanical name: Sassafras albidum
Common name: sassafras
Group: dicot
Family: Lauraceae
Growth type: shrub/tree
Duration: perennial, deciduous
Origin: native
Range in New Jersey: statewide
Plant height: 24 - 75’
Foliage: leaves are 0-3-lobed, rarely 5-lobed

in summer

Habitat: dry open acidic soils
Heritage ranking, if any: n/a
Misc. Common tree in the region, readily distinguished by its polymorphic leaves, some entire and unlobed, others 2-lobed (like a mitten), and others 3 (rarely 5 ) -lobed. The blue, fleshy fruits are seldom encountered, being quickly eaten by birds upon ripening. In the past, the roots were used to flavor tea and root beer.

A number of mammals browse on sassafras including deer, porcupines, rabbits, black bears, beavers, groundhogs. Fruits are consumed by numerous bird species such as kingbirds, quail, flycatchers, turkeys, catbirds, woodpeckers, vireos, and mockingbirds.

USDA fact sheet
Credit: USDA United States Dept. of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service data base