Friday, February 6, 2009


Here are a couple of close ups of a Sassafras tree, Sassafras albidum--a bud and a branch. Leaves are either three or one lobed, or no lobes at all. They're very colorful in the fall. I read that young leaves make a good thickener for soups and gumbo.

Years ago a friend taught me to identify Sassafras and dig up roots for their great flavor. I think I'll look for some sassafras tea...

Sassafras sends up cloned trees from its extensive root system. I'll be on the lookout for more specimens. Most that I've noticed in the area aren't any taller than twelve feet but they are found up to sixty feet.

I'm looking forward to photographing Sassafras throughout the seasons. Actually, I guess I feel that way about everything here.


  1. The thickener for soups and stews that you heard of in reference to Sassafras, is called Gumbo File. You can find it in the fine spice section of many, many groceries all across the United States, but especially in the Louisiana Gulf Coast region, among the peoples who have a tradition in Jumbalaya.

    Gumbo File, I believe, is made by steaming fresh young leaves of Sassafras, and then drying them. The resulting dry, bright green leaf, is crushed into a fine green powder which is the perfect description of the stuff you will pay dearly for at the store. Some books even suggest that much of the Sassafras grown for Gumbo File comes from the Ohio River Valley. I don't believe it.

    Andy Coffey

  2. Thank you for that interesting information, Andy!

    I was thinking about trying some leaves in a stew but didn't know the method of preparation.