Growing sassafras tree is easy, if space is no problem in your backyard grow this traditional American tree. Before you consider growing sassafras tree, it is important to know some sassafras tree facts and tips.
Sassafras tree is mildly fragrant and beautiful for landscaping, it also serves to protect privacy in your backyard.
USDA Zones — 5 to 9
Propagation Method — Seeds, Root cutting
Difficulty — Easy
Soil Type — Slightly acidic to neutral
Height — Up to 30 m. (100 F.)
Bloom Color — Yellow
Other Names — Ague Tree, Bois de Cannelle, Cinnamon Wood, Common Sassafras, Kuntze Saloop, Laurier des Iroquois, Laurus albida, Saloop, Sasafras, Sassafrax, Sassafras albidum, Sassafras officinale, Sassafras variifolium, Saxifrax.
Sassafras tree is native to North America and can grow between 9 to 30 m. in height (30 to 100 feet). All part of it are aromatic, leaves release citrus like smell when crushed. Its yellow flowers are mildly aromatic when blooms in summer and smells like root beer, sassafras leaves in autumn change to impressive orange-red.
All parts of sassafras tree are useful and used for culinary and medicinal purposes. Its leaves and flowers are used in salads and to flavor many other dishes.
Sassafras tree grows well in dry, sandy soil, in full sun or light shade in the afternoon.
Sassafras is an ornamental tree and most suitable to grow in backyards. Mature trees can grow wide and large so grow them at least 15 to 20 feet away from buildings or other large objects.
Sassafras is a fast growing deciduous tree and in spring and summer fragrant flowers makes a nice addition if you grow them near an outdoor seating and entertainment area.
Sassafras Tree Facts
Highly resistant to drought, sassafras tree is low maintenance. Once established it does not need watering, especially when planted in well-draining, acidic soil. Sassafras tree does well in most of the soil types, except waterlogged clay soil. It grows even in rocky areas without the need for supplemental watering or fertilizer.
If you’re growing sassafras tree, do light pruning. Light pruning prevents the development of suckers and tree grows tall and looks more ornamental. Suckers are small stems, which appear around the base of sassafras tree. If you prefer it to have it with a single trunk, cut off the suckers just below the surface of the soil as they grow in and leave only one trunk to maturity. Otherwise, leave suckers in place for more shrubby and dense shape. Suckers can be removed at any time by thinning out or removing them by pruning.
There are male and female flowers on separate sassafras trees and only female ones produces fruits after flowering. These fruits are loved by birds, they spill the seeds while eating, which germinate readily in a yard. Pull the seedlings quickly if you do not want new trees.
Pests and Diseases
If you are growing sassafras tree, you should know that scales, Japanese beetles, weevils and moths can affect it but the damage is minimal and you do not need any steps to control these pests.
Fungal diseases such as leaf spot can also affect sassafras trees, but rarely requires treatment. Verticillium wilt is another fungal disease, it’s a soil borne disease that infects the tree and makes the whole branches to wilt and die. A healthy mature tree can usually recover from the damage, but there is no real cure for the disease. Still you can prune infected branches completely. If the damage is incurable remove the tree from the yard.
Root bark of sassafras contains safrole, which is carcinogenic and harmful for human consumption. You can read more on it here.