Sassafras albidum (Nutt.) Nees - syn.Laurus albida Nutt.; Sassafras officinale Nees and Eberm. - Lauraceae
sassafras, Sassafras, Fenchelholz
Deciduous tree, native to atlantic North America, up to 20(-35)m tall; leaves ovate to elliptic, unlobed or 2-3-lobed; flowers fragrant (sweet, lemony), glabrous, tepals greenish yellow.
„Traditionally, „sassafras tea“ was prepared by steeping the bark of the roots (D. S. Correll and M. C. Johnston 1970). It was once considered a relatively pleasant drink. Several indigenous populations used sassafras twigs as chewing sticks, and sassafras root is used occasionally in commercial dental poultices. Sassafras root was one of the ingredients of root beer; this use has now been banned… Safrole is found as a minor component in many Lauraceae and as the principal component (80%) of sassafras oil. It is suspected of causing contact dermatitis and of being hallucinogenic, especially in large doses; it is also considered to be both carcinogenic and hepatotoxic (W. H. Lewis and M. P. F. Elvin-Lewis 1977).“ http://www.efloras.org/florataxon.aspx?flora_id=1&taxon_id=233501217
„Steam distillation of dried root bark produces an essential oil consisting mostly of safrole, which once was extensively used as a fragrance in perfumes and soaps, food and for aromatherapy. “
Repeated fractionated distillation of sassafras oil (roots with bark) showed safrol (80%), pinene and phellandrene (10%), camphor (6.8%), eugenol (0.5%), cadinene and residue (3%) as components.
[Power, B., Kleber, C., „Oil of sassafras bark and oil of sassafras leaves.“, Fritzsche Brothers, Circulars of information No.8, 1896]
The essential oil of S.albidum is dominated by safrole (82.0%), further minor components found were eg. methyl eugenol (3.0%), limonene (0.4%), 1,8-cineole (0.5%), camphor (0.5%), carvone (0.8%), α-cubebene (0.9%), eugenol (0.5%), β-guaiene (0.3%).
[The chemical composition of some Lauraceae essential oils and their antifungal activities. Simić, A., Soković, M. D., Ristić, M., Grujić‐Jovanović, S., Vukojević, J., Marin, P. D., Phytotherapy Research, Vol.18(9), 2004, 713-717]
Trew, C.J., Ehret, G.D., Plantae selectae, vol.7 t.70 (1765)