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Quail-Friendly Plants of the Midwest

Sassafras

  • Sassafras albidum

Woody

Summer coverEscape coverFood
Sassafras grows as a short to medium-sized tree

Sassafras grows as a short to medium-sized tree. Dense colonies of small sprouts may afford summer thermal and escape cover.

Missouri Department of Conservation


 

Sassafras flowers

Sassafras flowers are yellow and appear on female trees in April and May.

Missouri Department of Conservation

Blackish-blue fruits are borne on bright red stalks

Blackish-blue fruits are borne on bright red stalks, swollen at the point of fruit attachment.

©Steve Baskauf, Vanderbilt University (bioimages.vanderbilt.edu)

Sassafras leaves

Sassafras leaves occur in three shapes: three-lobed, one-lobed, and unlobed (entire). Leaves and stems also produce a spicy aroma when crushed.

Missouri Department of Conservation

Description

Sassafras trees are short to medium-sized and sometimes form dense colonies from root sprouts. Sassafras is easily identified by the leaves that have margins of three shapes: entire, one-lobed and three-lobed. The leaves have a spicy aroma when crushed and turn orange as early as late August. The twigs have a yellow-green hue, turn upward at the tips and also have a spicy fragrance when crushed. The dark blackish-blue fruits attach to a long, red, swollen stalk and mature in early fall. Sassafras can be found growing in old fields, fencerows, railroads and roadsides as well as on the border of dry woods, glades, prairies and bottomlands.

Use by bobwhites

Perhaps best known for the tea made from its root bark, sassafras is also an important dietary staple for many wildlife species. Deer, rabbits and woodchucks browse the leaves. Bobwhites and other songbirds frequently consume the fruits. Dense colonies may provide summer thermal and escape cover.


 

 

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MP903 Quail-Friendly Plants of the Midwest | Page 45 | University of Missouri Extension