Sassafras plant showing the lobed and unlobed leaves | Photo credit: Niels Proctor, University of Florida
Sassafras - sometimes called white sassafras - is well known for its aromatic properties. The leaves and bark both have a slightly citrus scent, while the roots have a strong root-beer odor.
In fact, it is from these roots that root beer was historically produced by early colonists. The roots were boiled with molasses, and then allowed to ferment, until a distinctive soft drink was produced. Sassafras tea is another popular drink that is steeped from the bark of the tree and served as a "soothing drink," or a "spring tonic." In England, the tea is mixed with milk and sugar to make saloop - a popular morning beverage.