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What Does Sassafras Smell Like? Useful Information!

Sassafras is a tree that originated from the eastern United States, which is known for its many medicinal and culinary uses. It comes from the Lauraceae family, which also includes some popular spices like cinnamon.

The tree is often grown for its decorative appearance and aroma. The question is, know what does sassafras smell like? Typically, individual sassafras leaves come in three different shapes: whole, mitten-shaped, and three-lobed.

Typically, these leaves are 4 to 8 inches in size when crushed and give off a fragrant aroma, as does a showy yellow spring. Also, in autumn, they take on beautiful shades of yellow, orange, and red. 

The flowers of the sassafras tree are replaced by dark blue fruits or drupes, beloved by various birds. This medium-sized tree with a moderate growth rate can grow to 49–65 feet in height, while the canopy can spread up to 39 feet wide. 

The tree is very hardy and grows from the Mississippi River floodplain to the southern Appalachian Mountains, growing up to 5,000 feet above sea level.

It grows in various soil types but grows best in moist, well-drained sandy loam soils. This tree prefers partial shade and plenty of space. If you want to be fruitful, you must plant both male and female trees. At times this plant has a smell, which is similar to other plants.

What Does Sassafras Smell Like
Sassafras via Flickr

What Does Sassafras Smell Like?

Sassafras trees smell like fruit loops. This smell is not very serious. When the bark is scratched or rub the leaf between your fingers, there will be the sweet scent that evokes memories of Kellogg’s flakes and vibrant toucans. This will permeate the immediate surroundings.

How To Grow Sassafras Trees To Get The Best Smell

Sassafras trees are cold-hardy in USDA zones 4-9. They will grow partly in the shade and partly in sunlight. Also, they will grow in clay, loamy, sandy, and acidic soils, provided there is adequate drainage.

These plants have a superficial root system that does not cause any problems. However, they have a very long and deep root, which makes transplanting larger specimens a problem.

>> Related Post: Do You Want To Know What Does Sage Smell Like?

Sassafras Tree Care

Trimming sassafras is rarely necessary, except to create a solid structure initially. Otherwise, caring for the sassafras tree is simple.

Provide the tree with adequate watering, but do not water or allow it to sit on wet soils. The tree is also pretty drought-tolerant.

Sassafras trees are susceptible to verticillium wilting but otherwise quite resistant to pests. These trees are either male or female.

Given the male is a torrential bloom, only the females bear fruit. So, you must plant both male and female trees if you want to grow fruit.

Mistakes To Avoid When Growing A Sassafras Tree

In sassafras, the tree is a source of spices, flavorings, and texturizers for food. Sassafras oil was the source of the root beer flavor. To grow healthy mature specimens from your sassafras, avoid the common planting and grooming mistakes below.

1. Do not plant a sassafras tree outdoors

The sassafras tree is best suited for partial shade and balanced soil with sand to improve drainage. It only requires about four hours of bright sun per day. Choose a sheltered location from the prevailing winds because the bark and wood become more fragile when the tree matures.

2. Avoid alkaline soil for your sassafras tree

With a pH of around 5.0, the acidic soil helps the sassafras tree develop aromatic oils, leaves, fruits, and other unique characteristics. 

Test the soil in your area and increase the acidity by adding peat moss, pine or cedar bark mulch, pine needles, or leaf mold compost. 

Keep the mulch bed around the main trunk a few feet away from where the suckers are most likely to appear. This will help maintain the soil’s acidity, maintain soil moisture, and control the growth of weeds and grass.

3. Avoid planting sassafras seeds in the spring

Sassafras seeds have a dormant period of almost six months, so plant the seeds in suitable soil in early fall. This gives them ample time in cool soil to germinate in the spring.

4. Don’t wait until fall to plant sassafras seedlings

The young sassafras trees need all the time to spend in their new environment. Make sure you plant them in early spring, once the ground warms up to about 50 degrees Fahrenheit and the air temperature stays at about the same level.

What Does Sassafras Smell Like 2
via Flickr

5. Don’t let root suckers develop into seedlings

The sassafras trees reproduce by root shoots, which are called suckers. They will emerge from the ground in an oval shape around the main trunk and compete with the main tree for soil nutrients, water, and air. 

Knock out these suckers near the trunk when they first appear. You can mow them with a lawn mower to remove them.

6. Avoid replanting the sassafras tree as it matures

Sassafras trees do not tolerate the stress of replanting. Since they grow from the main taproot, you can cut them when digging up the tree. 

Make sure you choose the best place to plant it when you first plant your seeds or plant young sassafras in your landscape. If you are moving into a new home, bring along a few shoot cuttings, carefully stored in peat moss and sealed in waterproof bags.

7. Avoid over-watering your sassafras tree

Too much water is harmful to sassafras roots, as it can cause fungal infections based on mold. Keep the roots ventilated and the soil moist but not completely wet. Only water the roots in hot weather, when the topsoil is dry.


Sassafras comes from the Lauraceae family. Its 4-8-inch leaves give off a fragrant scent when milled, as do showy yellow spring flowers. The flowers give way to dark blue fruits or seeds, which are beloved by many birds. 

The leaves and branches of the tree are eaten by other wild animals such as deer, tails, and even beavers. The bark of the tree has a wrinkled appearance. Typically, this plant has a particular smell, and with this article, you now know the smells.