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Florida 4-H Forest Ecology

Florida 4-H Forest Ecology


Sassafras albidum
Family: Lauraceae

Natural History

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.

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