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Sassafras

Doryphora sassafras
Monimiaceae
Sassafras
Very Common

This is a large tree, often with 2 or more trunks with flaky pale-brown bark. It can usually be identified by the distinctive "sassafras smell" of the crushed leaves.

The upper surface of the leaves is dark, glossy green, the midvein is distinct but sunken below the surface. The lateral veins are the same darkgreen as the leaf (Hedycarya angustifolia has whitish lateral veins). The leaf edge is coarsely toothed and the tip is blunt or shortly pointed.

The trees flower in spring but the number of flowers varies greatly from year to year. The fragrant flowers are white, with narrow petals and, in good flowering years, they can cover the tree.

The ribbed, green fruit has an elongate, pear shape and doesn't ripen until autumn or early winter. The ripe fruit splits open to liberate brown, "seeds" (the real seed is inside), each with a fluffy appendage for wind dispersal.

Sassafras is present in most Robertson rainforest remnants and it is a good tree to establish in a regenerating area when there is some canopy cover. It can be grown from seed, which should be sown fresh; germination may take up to 4 months.

Distribution: Yurammie State Forest (near Merimbula NSW) to Conondale Ra (Sth Q1d).