Sassafras Rainbow

We’ve had our first few light frosts this week!  This morning I went looking to see if the Sassafras roots would be ready for harvesting anytime soon. Nope. Not yet.  But I did learn something about the true colors of Sassafras.

Some Sassafras is yellow…

Some Sassafras is orange…

Some Sassafras is red…

And some Sassafras is still green!

I will wait until the leaves have fallen to dig the roots — some to make root beer, some to dry for teas and infusions.  I think I will also tie a matching-colored string around several plants so I can remember which were which, and see if the different varieties make different tasting brews.  Hopefully, I’ll have an update on that for you in a couple months.

Right now, I’m sipping some Sassafras tea made from leaves I dried last spring.  Mmmmmm…

(I was so excited to find Sassafras trees earlier this year that I got ahead of myself and dug Spring roots and made root beer with them, and dried the leaves for tea – read about that here)


6 Responses to “Sassafras Rainbow”

  1. Wendy on 22 Oct 2008 at 2:31 pm

    Sassy Sassafrass! How wonderful!

    How did you know the roots were not ready? What were you looking for? We can share this with Siobhan too.

    Thanks for the great post and awesome pics.


  2. tammy on 22 Oct 2008 at 3:18 pm

    Hi Wendy! just too much energy still above ground, so they just didn’t “feel” ready to me. Dunno if there are other criteria to look for… if anyone has more info on that I would be happy to learn — please share! :-)

    With more herbaceous herbs, I think there are different widely accepted criteria for perennials vs. biennials, etc. For example, burdock is a biennial (I think… going on memory here, yikes!) and does not make seeds the first year, so plenty of energy left in the root to be harvested, but when it makes seeds in the second year the root becomes dead and woody so should not be harvested then. I’ve heard many times that perennials need to wait until the third year, not sure why or how to id a third year root. Also not sure what kind of standard criteria may be applicable to trees, such as Sassafras…

  3. Sarah Head on 23 Oct 2008 at 9:15 am

    I don’t know if this holds true for the sassafras tree, but remember a scientist telling on the radio news that the colour of leaves depends entirely on the amount of sugars in the leaf. The amount of sugars depends on the amount of sunshine and therefore photosynthesis the tree has been able to do during the summer. This may explain why your different trees had different coloured leaves – is one in the shade and one in full sunshine?

    Just a thought

  4. Mon on 23 Oct 2008 at 12:37 pm

    It’s still so warm here…waiting for signs of frost.
    Great idea about the matching coloured string. Would love to hear about any differences you detect.

  5. tammy on 24 Oct 2008 at 8:45 am

    That sounds like a plausible explanation for the different colors to me. All the ones that have changed here are at woods edge, and I think they probably get similar amounts of sunshine. Next time I go up there I’ll pay closer attention to see if there is a pattern that could be due to sun exposure. Very curious now…

  6. ICQB on 10 Nov 2008 at 2:20 pm

    Sassafras tea is one of my favorites. My Dad pointed out the tree to me when I was little and when I got a little older I would often find saplings and brew tea with them. And once when I was backpacking with a friend, I gathered a sapling I saw on the trail one day and brewed tea for us that night over the campfire. She was impressed with the sweet flavor.

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