Sassafras albidum

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Common Names: Nees sassafras [1]

Sassafras albidum
Sassafras albidum FI.jpg
Photo by Chris Evans, University of Illinois, hosted at
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta - Flowering plants
Class: Magnoliopsida - Dicots
Order: Laurales
Family: Lauraceae
Genus: Sassafras
Species: S. albidum
Binomial name
Sassafras albidum
(Nutt.) Nees
Natural range of Sassafras albidum from USDA NRCS Plants Database.

Taxonomic Notes

Synonym: S. albidum var. molle (Rafinesque) Fernald

Variety: none


S. albidum is a perennial shrub/tree of the Lauraceae family that is native to North America. [1]


S. albidum is found throughout the eastern United States as far west as Texas and Kansas, as well as Ontario, Canada. [1]



Habitats for S. albidum include forests, old fields, disturbed areas and even fencerows. [2] The tree prefers low pH soils. [1] Specimens of this species have been taken from Moist loam at edges of woods, shaded mixed hardwoods region, fence rows, oak woodland, edge of orange groves, old foeld, river bluff, moist woods, limestone soil site, and a roadbank. [3]


S. albidum has been observed to flower in March. [4]

Seed dispersal

This species is thought to be dispersed by consumption by vertebrates. [5]

Fire ecology

Sassafras prefers environments that are subject to spring burns. They will be abundant in understory that is burned in late winter and spring burns. [6]

Use by animals

The fruit produced by the tree is commonly eaten by animals and in turn disperse the seeds. Such animals include, quail, wild turkeys, kingbirds, crested flycatchers, mockingbirds, sapsuckers, pileated woodpeckers, yellowthroat warblers, and phoebes. Other animals will eat the fruit, bark and wood as well; black bears, beavers, rabbits, and squirrels. Also, deer will forage in the foliage. [1]

This species is a variety of Persea and sassafras that is a primary food for the Palamedes swallowtail caterpillar. [7]

Diseases and parasites

Insects will eat the entire leaves and the plants can develop root rot is they are in an environment with wet clay soil. [1]

Laurel wilt impacting sassafras has been recorded in the Atlantic Coastal Plain region that the species is found. [8]

Conservation and Management

Cultivation and restoration

Photo Gallery

References and notes

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 USDA Plant Database
  2. Weakley, A. S. (2015). Flora of the Southern and Mid-Atlantic States. Chapel Hill, NC, University of North Carolina Herbarium.
  3. URL: Last accessed: June 2018. Collectors: Loran Anderson, Kathy Craddock Burks, Gary R. Knight, R.K.Godfrey, Patricia Elliot, Sidney McDaniel, Richard S. Mitchell, Elmar C. Prichard, Lovett Williams Jr., H. Kurz, Gwynn W. Ramsey, H. Larry E. Stripling, Wayne R. Faircloth, M. Garland, Delzie Demaree, Kurt E. Blum, Gary H. Morton, Frank Bowers, Robert. L. Lazor, John Moore, H.A. Wahl, John W. Thieret, Michael Cartrett, R. F. Doren, Clarke Hudson, Norlan C. Henderson, W.J. Taylor, S.B. Jones, States and counties: Florida (Leon, Jefferson, Jackson, Liberty, Volusia, Madison, Washington, Gadsden, Franklin, Wakulla) Georgia (Brooks, Stewart, Thomas), Virginia (Smyth, Giles), Arkansas (Saline, St. Francis), Tennessee (Summer, Campbell, Davidson), West Virginia (Monroe), Louisiana (Tangipahoa, Claiborne, Caddo), North Carolina (Macon, Wake), Mississippi (Covington, Jasper, Pike, Giles), Missouri (McDonald, Iron), Maryland (Anne Arundel), Louisiana (Beauregard, Bienville, Madison), Alabama (Colbert), New Jersey (Weston, Somerset), Pennsylvania (Juniata), Indiana (Huntington, Newton, Huntington)
  4. Nelson, G. PanFlora: Plant data for the eastern United States with emphasis on the Southeastern Coastal Plains, Florida, and the Florida Panhandle. Accessed: 29 MAY 2018
  5. Kirkman, L. Katherine. Unpublished database of seed dispersal mode of plants found in Coastal Plain longleaf pine-grasslands of the Jones Ecological Research Center, Georgia.
  6. Kush, J. S., et al. (1999). "Understory plant community response after 23 years of hardwood control treatments in natural longleaf pine (Pinus palustris) forests." Canadian Journal of Forest Research 29: 1047-1054.
  7. Spiegel, K. S. and L. M. Leege (2013). "Impacts of laurel wilt disease on redbay (Persea borbonia (L.) Spreng.) population structure and forest communities in the coastal plain of Georgia, USA." Biological Invasions 15(11): 2467-2487.
  8. Mayfield, A. E. and J. L. Hanula (2012). "Effect of Tree Species and End Seal on Attractiveness and Utility of Cut Bolts to the Redbay Ambrosia Beetle and Granulate Ambrosia Beetle (Coleoptera: Curculionidae: Scolytinae)." Journal of Economic Entomology 105(2): 461-470.