Thursday, November 8, 2012
Merry Meet :))
I was taking a walk in the woods the other night with my daughter when she started trying to dig up a tree. "What in the world are you doing?" I asked her. "I'm gonna make root beer!", she answered and went back to digging. She was digging up a Sassafrass tree. I asked her how she knew it was a Sassafrass tree and she showed me the leaves. "There's three different types of leaves," she told me. Indeed there were. I was surprised I hadn't noticed this plant before. How easy to identify it though! I'm putting a picture of the leaves below so you can see it.
Sassafrass is a native American tree. When you did up a Sassafrass tree, the roots smell just like root beer. In the past they were used to make root beer. However, current research has determined that the roots contain safrole, which is a carcinogen so it's suggested you no longer use the roots.
When the first settlers arrived in America, Sassafrass bark was one of the first things that they shipped home. They used the bark to make tea. The tea was useful as a stimulant, fever reducer, and a cure for syphillis. However, again research has showed that the oil can cause cancer, so it is not legal to sell it in the United States.
Although it is not safe to ingest any part of the sassafrass plant it still is amazing to plant. All the parts of the plant smell amazingand it's wonderful to use as an incense. Medicinallly the plant is still quite useful externally. The bark is a natural antiseptic that works great on skin problems. It also is wonderful to help stop itching, including poison ivy and poison oak.
Sassafrass plants can be difficult to grow. If you are going to try to move one from the wild to cultivate pick a very young one. They grow best in rocky soils, and very damp areas.
Love and Blessings,
ps. It is safe to have Sassafrass in very small quantities, however due to the research I would encourage not using the plant in that way. :)