Sassafras albidum

Sassafras is one of the most common sightings in the Alper Preserve. This deciduous tree of laurel family is a southerner in our flora and here usually does not reach the height and trunk diameter it attains down south, commonly growing to only 20 ft (sometimes to 50). It is easy to recognize by its often crooked trunks and limbs, characteristically furrowed mature bark, and smooth green bark on young branches and stems. The aromatic 3-7-inch leaves are variable on the same tree: unlobed (elliptic), 3-lobed, or else 2-lobed (mitten-shaped), turning bright yellow, red, or orange in the fall. Sassafras produces flowers of two types, staminate and pistillate, on different trees. The long-stalked small fruits are colored deep blue. They are consumed by birds and small mammals. Sassafras is capable of producing aggressive, dense colonies from root suckers, especially when it is disturbed.

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An old sassafras, Savery pond area, Plymouth. June 22

Root suckers often form groves. April 18, Plymouth

Staminate flowers, each with nine stamens. May 17

May 10

October 15, Plymouth