Oct 26 2009

Food for Birds

Published by at 7:33 am under Trees

Sassafras tree, leaves and pedicels (photo by Dianne Machesney)
Not only is this arrangement colorful, it’s a signal to birds that says, “Eat me!”  And that’s just what they did.  The fruit is gone.

These are the green leaves and red pedicels of Sassafras (Sassafras albidum), a medium to large-sized tree that’s unusual in several ways:

  • Its leaves have three distinct shapes:  smooth egg, two-lobed mitten, and three-lobed fingers.  Click here to see the shapes.
  • Its bead-like deep blue fruit stands up on each bright red stalk and is eaten by birds and bears so quickly that I rarely see it.  Click here to see the fruit on the stem.  Pretty amazing, huh?
  • Its twigs are browsed by rabbits and deer.
  • And Sassafras is food for humans too.  We (used to!) make tea from the roots’ outer bark and gumbo filé from powdered leaves.  Scroll down to the third paragraph here for more information on its edible qualities.

Sassafras says “eat me” and birds oblige.

(photo by Dianne Machesney)

2 responses so far

2 Responses to “Food for Birds”

  1. Kristenon 26 Oct 2009 at 5:29 pm

    I miss being able to have real sassafras tea now that they’ve discovered it carcinogenic. We used to dig roots up all the time when I was a kid.

  2. Kate St. Johnon 26 Oct 2009 at 5:37 pm

    I learn something new every day. Thanks for the heads up, Kristen. I googled and found this link on why sassafras tea is carcinogenic:
    http://wiki.answers.com/Q/Is_sassafras_tea_carcinogenic

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