Sassafras By: JannaJohnson and Meghann Clem
Sassafras World English Dictionary • sassafras (ˈsæsəˌfræs) — n • 1. an aromatic deciduous lauraceous tree, Sassafras albidum, of North America, having three-lobed leaves and dark blue fruits • 2. the aromatic dried root bark of this tree, used as a flavouring, and yielding sassafras oil • 3. ( Austral ) any of several unrelated trees having a similar fragrant bark • [C16: from Spanish sasafras, of uncertain origin]
Where You Find Sassafras? • Sassafras is native from southwestern Maine west to New York, extreme southern Ontario, and central Michigan; southwest in Illinois, extreme southeastern Iowa, Missouri, southeastern Kansas, eastern Oklahoma, and eastern Texas; and east to central Florida. • Is common in Kentucky and Indiana. • It is now extinct in southeastern Wisconsin but is extending its range into northern Illinois.
Special Uses The bark, twigs, and leaves of sassafras are important foods for wildlife in some areas. Deer browse the twigs in the winter and the leaves and succulent growth during spring and summer. Palatability, although quite variable, is considered good throughout the range. In addition to its value to wildlife, sassafras provides wood and bark for a variety of commercial and domestic uses. Tea is brewed from the bark of roots. The leaves are used in thickening soups. The orange wood has been used for cooperage, buckets, posts, and furniture. The oil is used to perfume some soaps. Finally, sassafras is considered a good choice for restoring depleted soils in old fields. It was superior to black locust or pines for this purpose in Indiana and Illinois.
The Legend of Sassafras There once was a little Indian boy named Sassafras who was born without any thumbs. As he grew, other children in the village made fun of Sassafras for not being able to play the same games as the other children who were born with thumbs. Sassafras became so sad that he decided to go to the mountains and ask the Indian Gods for thumbs like the normal children in the village. The Gods saw how sad Sassafras was and decided to grant him his wish. Sassafras was so very thankful to the Indian Gods, but after a while Sassafras became greedy. Sassafras thought, “Imagine how good I would be at playing the village games if I had two thumbs on each hand.” Sassafras returned to the Indian Gods and asked them to give him an extra thumb on each hand. The Indian Gods warned Sassafras about being greedy, but Sassafras insisted and so the Gods granted him his second wish. When Sassafras returned to the village and attempted to play the games, he realized that having an extra thumb on each hand once again made him different and hindered his ability to play the village games. Once again the children of the village mocked Sassafras and made fun of him for being different. Sassafras returned to the Indian Gods and pleaded with them to take back the extra thumbs. The Indian Gods were angered by Sassafras’s greediness and said they would not grant him his final wish. They did, however, give him a choice; Sassafras could choose to live the rest of his life with the extra thumbs or he could jump off of the mountain and become a Sassafras tree to remind all of the children to be thankful for what they are given in life and to accept one another’s differences. Sassafras chose to become an example of humility for all children.
There once was a little Indian boy named Sassafras who was born without any thumbs.. Sassafras thought, “Imagine how good I would be at playing the village games if I had two thumbs on each hand.” Sassafras became so sad that he decided to go to the mountains and ask the Indian Gods for thumbs like the normal children in the village.
Importance to Animal Life Sassafras is an important plant to many animals. The leaves and twigs are eaten by White-tailed Deer. Leaves are also eaten by Woodchucks and Eastern Cottontails. Stems are munched on by American Beaver. Fruits are eaten by many birds, including: Great Crested Flycatchers, Wild Turkey, Pileated Woodpeckers, Flickers, and Northern Mockingbirds. Small mammals also eat the fruit. Caterpillars of butterflies, such as the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, eat leaves also. Sassafras counts on animals to eat its fruit. Most animals do not digest the seeds. Later, when the animal poops, the seed has been move to a new place and can grow a new tree! European Gypsy Moths, a pest to most trees, only eat Sassafras if other trees, such as oaks, are not available. They actually help Sassafras grow when they eat leaves of other trees. This allows more sunlight to reach the shorter Sassafras.
Refrences • http://www.na.fs.fed.us/pubs/silvics_manual/volume_2/sassafras/albidum.htm • http://www.fcps.edu/islandcreekes/ecology/sassafras.htm • http://www.google.com/search?q=sassafras+leaves&hl=en&client=firefox-a&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&prmd=imvns&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=jGeAT86kBuLt0gGKxZyLCA&sqi=2&ved=0CEAQsAQ&biw=1600&bih=754