Trees or shrubs with spicy-aromatic bark and leaves, the latter simple (often lobed), alternate and marked with small transparent dots (visible under a lens). Sepals 6, petal-like. Flowers dioecious or polygamo-dioecious. Stamens in sterile flowers 9, inserted at the base of the calyx. Anthers opening by uplifting, valves. Ovary in fertile flowers free from the calyx, 1-celled, with a single ovule hanging from the top of the cell. Style and stigma 1. Fruit a 1-seeded drupe.
Nees. Sassafras. S. Officina'le, Nees. A small or moderate-sized tree with yellowish or greenish-yellow twigs and ovate or 3-lobed entire leaves. Flowers greenish-yellow, in naked corymbs, appearing with the leaves in the axils of the latter. Drupe blue, on a reddish pedicel. The 9 stamens in 3 rows, the 3 inner each with a pair of yellow glands at the base of the filament. Anthers 4-celled, 4-valved. - Rich woods, in southern and western Ontario.
2. lin'dera, Thunberg. Wild Allspice. Fever-bush. L. Benzo'in, Meisner. (Spice-bush.) A nearly smooth shrub with oblong-obovate leaves, pale beneath. Flowers honey-yellow in lateral umbel-like clusters, before the leaves. Stamens very much as in Sassafras, but the anthers are 2-celled and 2-valved. Pistillate flowers with 15-18 rudiments of stamens. Drupe red. - Damp woods, in early spring.