Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Sassafras is about to bloom

The green blush on the trees has changed from hint of lime to a richer spring green. Tiny leaves and buds are opening in the warming days. Walking the slope at the top of the property, I ducked under a branch then backed up. It had a cluster of buds about to bloom. I twisted the slender branch in my hand then glanced up at the tree. Ah, the sassafras. The tiny yellow flowers are just starting to open up.

Better know for its distinctive leaves, the sassafras has oval, mitten-shaped (right or left thumbed) and three-lobed leaves all on the same tree. It is also the host plant for the Spicebush Swallowtail Butterfly. Historically it was used as flavoring with sarsaparilla, for root beer. That practice has since been discontinued, once the FDA banned it. The leaves are dried and ground and made into filé powder used in Gumbo.

The sassafras tree is common in eastern North American and loves the dry soil up here on the mountain. The trees produce suckers from its roots though and would colonize if I let it. I keep this one pruned at the base. I am fond of this tree. I put the wren house in it every year.

1 comment:

deejbrown said...

I am fond of Sassafras. Reminds me of galloping over the neighborhood lawns (nobody cared if you ran over their grass then). We would find a Sassafras and squish the leaves between our fingers for the wonderful scent. Totally non-addictive. I think.