How are you feeling today? I am a sassafras, otherwise known in the 18th century as a wonder drug! Try crushing my leaves or twigs — you’ll love my pleasant spicy scent. Did you know that I am closely related to cinnamon trees of India and camphor laurel, common in China and Japan. My wood was one of the first cash crops shipped back to Europe.

Back in the day, the early settlers considered me to be a cure-all for all kinds of ailments. I was used to treat malaria, lameness, kidney stones, and venereal disease. I was made into a popular drink. Native Americans used me to make tea and poultices for sickness. Some people believed my wood warded off evil spirits. In fact, they thought that a ship with enough sassafras in its hull would never be wrecked!  But seriously, I must confess to you that I do not have such powers. My wood does not rot readily in the ground, so I am good for fence posts and rails, buckets, and small boats. Native Americans used my bark and wood to make dugout canoes (also known as mishoons).

I burn with a quick, hot flame but watch out for shooting sparks!