Identify sassafras trees by examining the leaves, bark, tree height, flowers, fruit, scent and geographic location of the trees. You need a field guide for comparison. Sassafras trees are usually easy to identify by taking all of these features into consideration, with identification completed in under 30 minutes.
- Determine the height of a mature tree
Measure or estimate the height of a mature tree. The average height of a sassafras tree is between 20 and 40 feet, though some are shorter due to twisting of the trunk.
- Examine the leaves
Check the shape of the leaves on the tree. Most sassafras trees contain three different leaf shapes. One shape resembles a child's mitten, while others are oval or resemble a webbed foot.
- Check the bark
Look for brownish-red bark containing deep furrows. Break open the bark to look for a cinnamon color.
- Look for flowers and fruit
Check the tree for yellowish-green clusters of flowers in May or dark blue fruit in September. Both male and female trees produce flowers, though only the female bears fruit.
- Smell the bark
Snap off a twig, and smell it. Sassafras trees were once used in the production of root beer. This practice was discontinued, but the distinctive aroma of root beer is a relic of the tree's inclusion.
- Check the geographic location
Sassafras trees are found in the eastern portion of the United States.