Sassafras is a very small genus of deciduous trees native to eastern North America and eastern Asia.
The Sassafras tree grows up to 120 feet tall and up to 6 feet in diameter but is usually about 30 – 40 feet high with all parts of the tree being very fragrant. Sassafras is distinguishable by its unique leaf pattern; a single tree will have 3 different leaf patterns on the same branch and when the leaf is crushed smells like lemons.
Sassafras root was used to make Root Beer until 1960 when Sassafras was banned for consumption. Due to a number of animal and human illnesses with the use of Sassafras it is no longer used in beverages, teas, or even cosmetics; however, very small doses are sometimes used.
An old folk tale tells of the Gods and Goddesses making humans from double trees turning the limbs into arms and legs and the crown into a head full of wisdom. The Sassafras tree saw this and wanted to be human too but just couldn’t make it and this is why the Sassafras tree has mitten shaped leaves; as it tried to form hands.
Powdered Sassafras is used as a thickening agent in some gumbo dishes in other countries.
Sassafras wood is considered very durable and is used to make posts and barrels and cabinetry.
Sassafras was used to make Root Beer by boiling the roots in molasses; however, this is not considered safe and has been banned.
Native Americans used Sassafras to treat many ills including headaches and to cause abortions.
Sassafras was used to treat insect bites when the leaves were crushed and rubbed directly on the insect bite.
Sassafras Dangers & Cautions
Sassafras is not considered a safe herb and should not be used internally or externally.