So far as is known, the oil of sassafras leaves has been distilled but once. From fresh leaves Power and Kleber1) obtained 0,028 p.c. of an oil with an exceedingly pleasant odor reminding of lemons: d16o0,872 and aD + 6°25'.
The lowest boiling fraction consists of a mixture of a-pinene (nitrol benzylamine) and myrcene. This representative of the olefinic terpenes, which have been found in a number of volatile oils, e.g bay oil, oil of hops, origanum oil and oil of rosemary, was hydrated by means of Bertram's method. The resulting alcohol had the odor and boiling point of linalool. The alcohol was further identified by its oxidation product, citral, and the condensation product of the latter with naphthylamine and pyrouvic acid. The third terpene found in sassafras leaf oil is phellan-drene (nitrite). In addition the presence of a paraffin (m.p. 58°) and of a sesquiterpene was established.
Of oxygenated constituents sassafras leaf oil contains citral (citryl-B-naphthocinchoninic acid), as well as the two isomeric alcohols linalool and geraniol, both of which occur free and as acetate and valerate.
1) Pharm. Review 14 (18%), 103 ff.