Re: [gardeners] Sassafras

Linda Baranowski-Smith (
Wed, 21 Oct 1998 23:54:54 -0400

George wrote:

>I've been running around the woods of SE Texas and SW Louisiana all my
>life and have never seen a sassafras tree with seeds. Doesn't mean there
>aren't any, just I never saw any. I have a small, 6 foot, sassafras
>growing behind the house and now have two or three 6 inch trees coming
>up 20 to 30 feet away. Just assumed they came up from the roots. This is
>interesting, let us know what you find out. Sassafras trees are a way of
>life down here, that's where gumbo file comes from, ground up sassafras

...oh me oh my ohhh...
Crawfish pie n' file gumbo...
Son of a gun, gonna have big fun on the bayou..

Oops, can't help myself.  Had to burst into song. :o  Is it file or filet
(fill-lay)?  Heard it called "zab" also.

Back to sassafras...  Still don't know anything.  Others have suggested the
birds may eat all the seed before they mature.  Male and female flowers are
on separate trees.  The fruit is a dark blue drupe, about 1/2 inch long,
and on the end of a red, fleshy stalk.  I look at our trees year round from
the windows and I think I'd notice.  Other folks around here have never
seen the seed either.  Maybe all the local trees are male.

One of our trees is about 30 feet tall and yes, it puts out suckers away
from the tree.  I've let a few of them mature.  My understanding is that
the suckers have to be root pruned the first year in order to survive a
transplanting the second year.

I need seed though because I can't take a tree to Canada.  I may have to
wait until next year to track this interesting question before September
rolls around.  Will let y'all know if I find the answer. :)

Linda in NW Ohio near Toledo/Lake Erie, USDA Zone 5