Genus of the Week
Week of January 18-24
This page has been created for people who want to learn more about plants, especially in the
context of their taxonomy (Latin names, etc.). This is by no means an exhaustive list of
all available Web resources for a particular genus.
If you like this page, you should also visit the Land of the Glandular Trichomes
, a microscopic look at plants in the Lamiaceae family.
This week's genus:
Number of Species: at least 2
Root: The Spanish botanist Monardes (16th century) thought this genus to be named after
Saxifraga, an unrelated genus whose name is derived from the Latin for "rock-breaking" (in
reference to that genus' tendency to sprout up between rocks).
Plants in the genus Sassafras are trees or shrubs, often with characteristic mitten-shaped
leaves existing on the same plant along with elliptical and 3-lobed leaves. There have been many
economic uses of this genus over the centuries. The oil derived from the bark and berries has
been used in perfumes, while the wood is used in the timber industry and a yellow dye can be
extracted from the bark. Sassfras oil was formerly used in some carbonated beverages and also has
been used to make tea, but this volatile oil is also known for its poisonous and cancerous side efects.
Here are some links to information concerning the genus Sassafras:
- Visit the web pages of The Assateague Naturalist of Virignia to see pictures and a
description of S. albidum, including
images of several different leaf shapes.
- Read about S. albidum in the Ozarks in
Missouri from a company called Las Brisas Sales (specializing in herbal products).
- Dr. Alice B. Russell of North Carolina State University has created the "Urban
Tree Identification for North Carolina" as part of her web site. Included on this site is well-presented information on
S. albidum, along with
some nice photos.
- The Poison Information Center of Singapore has important information about the hazards of
Safrole, an essential oil
discovered in Sassafras but found in many other plants as well.
- The Family Internet web site has information on what to do if you or someone you know
exhibits the symptoms of a Sassafras
- Grieve, M. (C. F. Leyel, ed.). A Modern Herbal. London, Tiger Books International: 1973.
- Heywood, V.H., ed. Flowering Plants of the World. New York, Oxford University Press: 1993.
- Little, Elbert L., ed. The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American
Trees, Eastern Region. New York, Alfred A. Knopf: 1980.
|If you have comments on "Genus of the Week" or suggestions for a future genus, |
Click on the envelope and send me some email!
Current Genus of the Week
Jenn's Home Page