Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Wet Sassafras

Today’s photo is the leaves of a sassafras tree, wet from the storm that I got last evening. The leaves are often described as being a mitten shape, though I've never had a pair of mittens with three fingers. Apparently some of the leaves do have two lobes instead of three, but I don't think I've seen that on any of the local trees.

When I was a kid my dad would pluck a leaf and let me chew on the end of it, the way you might chew on a blade of grass. The flavor is wonderful, kind of minty in a way, though without quite as “bright” a tang to it. The roots were used to make sassafras tea and were at one time the flavoring in root beer. Now I read that sassafras is considered toxic and it is banned from food substances in Canada and the U.S. It was found to cause liver damage, though I suspect you'll need to do more than occasionally chew on the end of one. If there’s anything left with sassafras flavor in it, it cannot be made with real sassafras. All I can say is that I’m still here, though I’ve never gobbled sassafras in any amount. Chewing on a leaf once a year is about my limit. The oil is still used in some fragrances, though.

And did I mention rain again? I’m now up to day 3 with my laundry still on the line. Last evening, if I’d gotten home 5 minutes earlier, I could have had it off the line and in the drawer. Instead, it was doused with nearly an inch of rain. This is starting to be kind of funny. I wonder if tomorrow will be the day….


Anonymous said...

When I was a child, I remember drinking sassafras tea from the saplings we found in our backyard in Western PA. If I remember correctly, there were three types of leaves on it, the mitten shape being one. It was surprisingly tasty, just like rootbeer. I was appalled when I found out it was toxic. So far, my liver seems fine...


Cathy said...

You can send your extra up to me, little dry up here. Just had one brief downpour today, which made even more humid out.

Also this past week, had three bears either walk up the street or through the yard. Oh course, they have to do this when I'm not home.

Carolyn H said...

Cathy: Three bears waltzing down the street would be too funny. I hope you get that picture eventually!!

Carolyn H.