Sporadically distributed throughout the Eastern U.S. Height varies with region: southern trees generally grow tallest with average heights of 80 feet.
Furniture, millwork and mouldings, windows, doors and door frames and kitchen cabinets.
Sassafras tea can be made from boiling the tree’s flowers and the root bark. Sassafras oil from the tree’s root can also be used to perfume soap and as medicine. Chewing on sassafras twigs stimulates saliva production: a useful fact for desperately thirsty hikers.
Together, aspen, basswood, cottonwood, elm, gum, hackberry, sassafras, sycamore and willow represent 12.5 percent of commercially available U.S. hardwoods.
Sir Walter Raleigh took sassafras back to England from Virginia. In what were called the Great Sassafras Hunts from 1602-1603, ships were sent from England to collect the roots. Sassafras roots then were converted into a tonic that smelled like root beer and supposedly kept its drinkers youthful and healthy. Sassafras was also used as dye to give fabric an orange tint.
Sassafras heartwood is pale brown to orange brown, resembling ash or chestnut. The narrow sapwood is yellowish white. The wood has a coarse texture and is generally straight-grained. Well-known as an aromatic species.
Sassafras is easily worked and takes a finish well. It glues well and holds screws better than it nails, where pre-boring may be necessary to avoid splitting. It requires care in drying as it has a tendency to check with small movement in performance.
Medium strength in all categories except stiffness which is low. Suitable for steam bending.
Lumber extremely limited.