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The Sassafras tree has quite a history of stories around it. One that you might have heard as a child goes something like this: "One day, Grandma was knitting some mittens for her grandson. Her first mitten didn’t fit, and she laughed and laughed and said it was just a practice run. She then made a beautiful left handed mitten and a right handed mitten and her grandson was very pleased.” What does this story have to do with the Sassafras tree? It can have 3 different shapes of leaves ... all that resemble mittens.
Sassafras albidum grows in open woods and along roadsides. This native tree is host to the 38 butterflies and moths including the beautiful Spicebush Swallowtail butterfly and Promethea moth caterpillar. The birds enjoy the small fruit in the fall too.
Besides being an important host tree to native animals, it is enjoyed for it's aromatic smell and beautiful fall colors of red, orange and purple leaves.
Sassafras trees can be found at Governor Bebb MetroPark, Indian Creek MetroPark, the Meadow Ridge Area of Elk Creek MetroPark and more! Look for them on your next visits to these parks and watch for their mitten shaped leaves to appear this spring!
Check out the Show & Tell on the Farm: Whose Mitten is This? to make a mitten craft!
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