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The sassafras tree is a medium-size tree native to the eastern part of North America. It is grown for its curiously variable leaves, beautiful fall color, and ability to adapt well to poor soil conditions. It is used in the production of sassafras tea.

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Description of sassafras tree: The sassafras usually starts off its life as a shrub, forming a thicket of saplings all around the mother plant. It eventually forms a flat-topped tree with an irregular head, reaching about 40 to 60 feet in height. The bark is reddish brown with corky ridges. Its leaves are smooth-edged and bright medium green, turning various shades of yellow, orange, scarlet, and purple in the fall. The leaf form is variable, ranging from unlobed to mittenlike to threelobed, often all on the same branch. The dark blue berries are borne on bright red stalks.

Growing sassafras tree: Plant when young, since this tree resents transplanting. It prefers a rich, moist, acid soil, although it is often found in rocky soils in the wild. If a treelike shape is desired, prune out suckers as they form. It is relatively pest free.

Uses for sassafras tree: This is a good choice for naturalized plantings, roadsides, and small lots.

Related species and varieties of sassafras tree: There are no related species or varieties.

Scientific name of sassafras tree: Sassafras albidum

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