TREES & plants


Sassafras is a North American native tree that provides vivid fall color and interesting mitten-shaped leaves. In the wild it can form thickets, a trait that may not be appropriate for every landscape.

Botanical name: 
Sassafras albidum
All Common Names: 
Family (English): 
Family (Botanic): 
Tree or Plant Type: 
  • Tree
Native Locale: 
  • Chicago area
  • Illinois
  • North America
Planting Site: 
  • Residential and parks
Landscape Uses: 
  • Specimen
  • Shade
Size Range: 
  • Medium tree (25-40 feet)
  • Small tree (15-25 feet)
Mature Height: 
20-30 feet
Mature Width: 
25-40 feet
Light Exposure: 
  • Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily)
  • Partial sun/shade (4-6 hrs light daily)
Hardiness Zones: 
  • Zone 4
  • Zone 5
  • Zone 6
  • Zone 7
  • Zone 8
  • Zone 9
Soil Preference: 
  • Acid soil
Acid Soils: 
  • Prefers
Alkaline Soils: 
  • Moderately Tolerant
Salt Spray: 
  • Moderately Tolerant
Soil Salt: 
  • Intolerant
Drought Conditions: 
  • Tolerant
Poor Drainage: 
  • Intolerant
Planting Considerations: 
  • Excessive sucker growth
  • May be difficult to find in nurseries
  • Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
Ornamental Interest: 
  • Fall color
  • Showy fruit
Season of Interest: 
  • Mid spring
Flower Color & Fragrance: 
  • Inconspicuous
  • Fragrant
Shape or Form: 
  • Irregular
  • Pyramidal
  • Round
  • Thicket-forming
Growth Rate: 
  • Moderate
  • Fast
Transplants Well: 
  • Yes
  • Browsers
  • Game birds
  • Small mammals
  • Songbirds
More Information: 

Tree & Plant Care

  • This tree must be planted in the spring.
  • This is a thicket-forming plant.

Disease, pests, and problems


Disease, pest, and problem resistance

Tolerant of black walnut toxicity.

Native geographic location and habitat

C-Value: 3


Attracts birds, pollinators, or wildlife


Bark color and texture 


Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture


  • Shape: mitten-shaped, or oval or mitten-shaped with two 'thumbs'
  • Color: green
  • Fall Color: yellow-orange

Leaves are aromatic 

Flower arrangement, shape, and size


Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions


Cultivars and their differences