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Chinese Plant Names | Family List | Lauraceae | Sassafras

Sassafras tzumu (Hemsl.) Hemsl.


Description from Flora of China

Lindera tzumu Hemsley, J. Linn. Soc., Bot. 26: 392. 1891; L. camphorata H. Léveillé; Litsea laxiflora Hemsley; Pseudosassafras laxiflorum (Hemsley) Nakai; P. tzumu (Hemsley) Lecomte.

Deciduous trees, up to 35 m tall, 2-5 m d.b.h. Bark yellow-green when young but gray-brown when mature, smooth, irregularly and longitudinally fissured. Branchlets reddish initially but blackish when dry, robust, suberect, ± angled, glabrous. Terminal buds large, ellipsoid, up to 1.3 × 0.9 cm; bud scales suborbicular, densely yellow sericeous outside. Leaves alternate, clustered at apex of branchlet, unlobed or 2- or 3-lobed; petiole always reddish when fresh, slender, (1-)2-7 cm, plano-convex, glabrous or sparsely hirtellous; leaf blade gray-green abaxially, green and opaque or slightly shiny adaxially, ovate or obovate, 9-18 × 6-10 cm, papery, glabrous on both surfaces or sometimes sparsely hirtellous especially on venation abaxially, pinninerved or triplinerved, basal lateral veins opposite, very developed, other lateral veins 5-7 pairs, midrib, lateral veins, and veinlets slightly conspicuous on both surfaces, lateral veins and veinlets anastomosing in arcuate form toward leaf margin, base cuneate, apex acuminate (but apex of lateral leaf lobes slightly obtuse). Raceme terminal, appearing before leaves, 4-5 cm, many flowered, pedunculate; peduncle less than 1 cm; rachis densely brown villous, subtended by late deciduous alternate involucral bracts at base; bracts linear to filiform, 1-8 mm, lowest one longest. Pedicel slender, 4.5-6 mm, densely brown villous. Flowers yellow, ca. 4 mm. Perianth tube very short; perianth lobes 6, lanceolate, subequal, ca. 3.5 mm, sparsely pilose outside, glabrous inside, slightly obtuse at apex. Fertile stamens 9, in 3 series, subequal, ca. 3 mm; filaments complanate, pilose; anthers ovate-oblong, 4-celled. Staminodes 3, ca. 1.5 mm, triangular-subulate, stipitate. Ovary ovoid, ca. 1 mm, glabrous; style ca. 1.2 mm; stigma discoid. Fruit subglobose, up to 8 mm in diam., blue-black and white waxy when mature, seated on red shallow perianth cup; stalk 1.5-2 cm, glabrous, gradually dilated at apex. Fl. Mar-Apr, fr. May-Sep.

The wood is yellowish, finely grained, durable, and used for boat-and furniture-making. The roots and bark are used medicinally for treating traumatic injuries and rheumatic disorders. The fruits, leaves, and roots contain essential oil; the roots contain ca. 1%, and its main component is safrole.

● Always growing in sparse or dense forests; 100-1900 m. Anhui, Fujian, Guangdong, Guangxi, Guizhou, Hubei, Hunan, Jiangsu, Sichuan, Yunnan, Zhejiang.


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