Friday, October 21, 2011

Shades of Autumn--Sassafras

Sassafras albidum-a Missouri native-is a medium-sized deciduous tree that grows along the fence line of our property. Sassafras oil (obtained from the root bark or fruit) has been used as a tea, root beer flavoring and a thickening agent.  In 1960, the oil was determined to contain a weak carcinogenic substance (safrole) and was banned by the FDA...  I'm not going to try to brew a cup of tea from this tree on my property, but here's what I do like about the Sassafras tree:
  • It's a food source for wildlife.--In addition to munching on my Hostas, White-tailed deer (a constant presence in my yard) eat the leaves and twigs of this tree.  It's also a host plant for the Spicebush Swallowtail Butterfly.
  • It has a continuous seasonal interest--yellow clustered blooms in the spring, followed by blueish/black berries in the late summer and in fall its leaves turn a deep orange to red.
  • What I find the most interesting or unusual about this tree is the fact that there are three different leaf shapes within the same tree (ovate, mitten shaped, three lobed)....





12 comments:

  1. That is fascinating that it has 3 different shaped leaves! Great captures and information!

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  2. How interesting, I had no idea! I love that it has differently shaped leaves on the same tree. Great photos!

    Thanks for taking part in the Shades of Autumn Photo Challenge, I hope you'll join us next time for the colour red!

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  3. What a beautiful tree! So glad you put the history in.

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  4. That's an interesting plant! Three leaf shapes - I don't think Ive ever seen that before. I love that it looks great for many seasons. And it's a bonus that it attracts butterflies.

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  5. pretty!

    http://whisperedbeauty.blogspot.com/2011/10/shades-of-autumn.html

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  6. I love a tree with a sense of fashion! :o)

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  7. I always find new trees so interesting -- love the fact this one has three different leaves. Great photos and information, Rebecca. :)

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  8. Great capture. Love all the different shaped leaves.

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  9. And it has a great smell. Great information about the sassafras.

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  10. Although I love Spring and I'm so glad it's warming up, Autumn is so beautiful with the leaf change like your pics show. Very interesting information too!

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  11. So pretty! I love the shape of the leaves.

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  12. I love your photos of the trees! Orange was a bit tricky for me. Red I am hoping will be easy peasy.....but we will see.

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