Sassafras albidum

Common Names

Black Ash, Golden Elm, Cinnamon Wood, Common Sassafras, File-Gumbo,  Red Sassafras,  Sassafrasso, Saxifrax, , Smelling-Stick,  Wah-en-nah-kas, White Sassafras


Essential oil distilled from the root-bark or the fruit is used to make safrole, tea and as a fragrance in perfumes and soaps, food and for aromatherapy.  The shoots are used to make root beer, which owes its characteristic odor to the sassafras extract. The leaves are used for thickening sauces and soups, and when dried and ground are known as filé powder, a spice used in Cajun, Creole, and other Louisiana cooking, such as the dish filé gumbo.

Did You Know?

Sir Walter Raleigh took sassafras back to England from Virginia. In what were called the Great Sassafras Hunts from 1602-1603, ships were sent from England to collect the roots. Sassafras roots then were converted into a tonic that smelled like root beer and supposedly kept its drinkers youthful and healthy. Sassafras was also used as dye to give fabric an orange tint.


Sassafras is native to North America from Maine through Ontario, Michigan, Indiana, Iowa, and Kansas, to Florida and Texas. Average tree height is 30' to 60'

Main Uses

The wood of sassafras is used in the manufacture of  furniture, interior and exterior joinery, windows, doors and door frames , kitchen cabinets and  paneling. It is a preferred wood used in boat building and fence posts.

Relative Abundance

Together, aspen, basswood, cottonwood, elm, gum, hackberry, sassafras, sycamore and willow represent 12.5 percent of commercially available U.S. hardwoods.

General Description

Sassafras heartwood is pale brown to orange brown, resembling ash or chestnut. The narrow sapwood is yellowish white. The wood has a coarse texture and is generally straight grained. Well known as an aromatic species.

Sassafras is very resistant to heartwood decay, in exposed damp conditions however, the sapwood is liable to attack by powder post beetle.


Extremely Limited.


Strength & Mechanical Properties

(inch-pound)a at moisture content



Specific Gravity



Modulus of Rupture (lbf/in2)



Modulus of Elasticityc

(106 lbf/in2)



Work to Maximum Load




Impact Bending (in.)



Compression Parallel to Grain (lbf/in2)



Compression Perpendicular to Grain (lbf/in2)



Shear Parallel to Grain (lbf/in2)



Tension Perpendicular to Grain (lbf/in2)



Side Hardness (lbf)




Results of tests on small clear specimens in the green and air-dried conditions. Definition of properties: impact bending is height of drop that causes complete failure, using 0.71-kg (50-lb) hammer; compression parallel to grain is also called maximum crushing strength; compression perpendicular to grain is fiber stress at proportional limit; shear is maximum shearing strength; tension is maximum tensile strength; and side hardness is hardness measured when load is perpendicular to grain.

Specific gravity is based on weight when oven-dry and volume when green or at 12% moisture content.

Modulus of elasticity measured from a simply supported, center-loaded beam, on a span depth ratio of 14/1. To correct for shear deflection, the modulus can be increased by 10%.

Source: Wood Handbook, Wood as an Engineering Material, USDA Forest Service.



Ash • Beech • Brazilian Cherry • Brazilian Walnut • Aromatic Cedar • Cherry • Coffeenut • Cypress • Hickory • Hard Maple • Poplar • Red Elm • Red Oak • Sassafras • Soft Maple • Walnut • White Oak • White Pine • Yellow Pine • Heart Pine

click the above images to view

Wood is a natural product. Some variation in color and grain pattern will occur between samples, images on this website, photographs and any specific installation.

Working Properties

Sassafras is easily worked and readily accepts a finish. It glues well and holds screws better than it nails, where pre-boring may be necessary to avoid splitting. It requires care in drying as it has a tendency to check with small movement in performance.

Sassafras - Working Properties Chart

PDF file on strength & mechanical properties

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Physical Properties

Medium strength in all categories except stiffness which is low. Suitable for steam bending. The wood is coarse-grained, straight, brittle and soft, with a spicy aromatic odor. Sassafras is a ring-porous species.

630 Janka Hardness Rating

Sassafras Estimated

Product Weights


Green Rough Sawn

3.67 bf

KD Rough Sawn

2.58 bf

KD 15/16" HoM Planed

2.42 bf

KD 3/4" S4S & Flooring

2.10 sf

Listed weights should be considered estimated averages only and do not include the additional weight of bolsters, packaging or crating.




















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