Sassafras albidum, commonly known as Sassafras, is a medium-sized deciduous tree, renowned for its aromatic properties and distinctive foliage.
It typically reaches a height of 9 to 18 metres, with a spread of 6 to 12 metres.
The leaves are unique, displaying three different shapes: unlobed oval, bilobed (mitten-shaped), and trilobed (three-pronged); they turn vibrant shades of yellow, orange, and red in autumn.
In spring, small, yellow-green flowers emerge, often unnoticed, followed by dark blue-black berries on red stalks, which are a food source for wildlife.
The bark of mature trees is thick and deeply furrowed.
Sassafras albidum prefers well-drained, sandy soil and thrives in full sun to partial shade.
In the British Isles, Sassafras albidum is not commonly found in the wild but is occasionally cultivated in parks and gardens for its ornamental value and unique leaf shapes.
It’s more commonly seen in botanical gardens or as part of specialised plant collections rather than widespread across the countryside.