Within the Sassafras albidum article...


var. molle (Raf.) Fern.

Synonyms
Sassafras triloba var. mollis Raf.
Laurus sassafras L.
S. officinale Nees & Ebermaier

This variety, with the young branchlets and leaf-undersides downy, occurs almost throughout the range of the species, while the more glabrous, typical state is confined to the northern part of the area; but intermediates occur.The sassafras is pleasingly aromatic, and many medicinal virtues were once imputed to it. Although it has no great beauty of flower, it is a striking and handsome tree in foliage, and is of ornamental value even when it remains shrubby, as it often does in this country. Although it has been in cultivation in Britain since the 1630s there are very few good specimens in the country. The best was at Claremont, near Esher, which was about 50 ft high in 1910, the trunk 7{1/4} ft in girth at 1 ft from the ground – a fine pyramidal specimen. No comparable tree has been recorded recently; one at Wakehurst Place, Sussex, is about 60 ft high but only 3{1/4} ft in girth (1974).S. albidum is a perfectly hardy species except when quite young, though the unfolding leaves are sometimes crippled by late frost. It is usually raised from imported seed, but root-cuttings are another means of increase, and suckers are sometimes produced, which can be detached and established in pots. It needs a deep fertile soil.

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