Sassafras : Tree Life

Sassafras Native Range

The native range of Sassafras albidum in the US. (2006)

The native region of sassafras is “all of the States east of a line running between Lake Superior and Texas,” and the southernmost regions of Ontario. It likes to grow in well-drained sandy loam and is sensitive to shade, growing much better in semi-shade or complete sunlight. It is a pioneer species that grows on abandoned fields and other open areas largely due to its preference to sunlight and its dislike to competing for sunlight with other trees. 

The yellowy-green flowers begin to appear on the tree in March and April, around the same time its leaves begin to unfold. Seed production does not start on the tree until it is close to ten years old, and production is greatest when the tree is 25-50 years old. The seeds are covered by the dark fruits, which do not mature until August and September. At that point, many of them are eaten by birds, which act as the main means of seed transportation.