Sewanee Herbarium » Project Center » Medicinal Plants » Sassafras

Sassafras albidum Sassafras
Lauraceae (Laurel Family)

Other Names: Saxifrix, Saxifras, Tea tree, Mitten tree, Gumbo, Cinnamonwood, Smelling stick, Saloop

Description:Tree; 10-100 ft. Leaves in 3 shapes: oval, mitten lobed, or 3-lobed; fragrant; mucilaginous. Yellow flowers in clusters appear before leaves. Fruits blue-black, 1-seeded.

Where Found: Poor soils. From s. ME to FL, TX to e. KS.

Status: Native

Medicinal Part: Leaves, Twig pith, Root bark

Preparation: Poultice of Leaves, Twig pith mucilage, Twig pith tea, Root bark tea

Uses: Leaf mucilage once used to treat stomachaches. The twig pith mucilage has been used as a wash for eye ailments and also taken internally, in tea, for chest, bowel, kidney, and liver ailments. Root bark tea is a famous spring blood tonic and folk remedy for stomachaches, gout, arthritis, high blood pressure, rheumatism, kidney ailments, colds, fevers, and skin eruptions. The root bark tea is delicious as well.

Constituents and Effects: Safrole: said to cause cancer when given in extremely high doses to lab rats; however beer has a carcinogenicity index fourteen times that of sassafras for rats.