Friday, October 8, 2010

Sassafras albidum--Lauraceae

Sassafras has several different leaf shapes, much like mulberry; ghost, mitten, football. Can you find all three in the picture? It also has an interesting history. A pharmacist invented root beer in 1870. It has many ingredients, but the sassafras root contributed one of the main flavors. He was trying to create a miracle drug, but sassafras is a carcinogen, and is no longer allowed in consumables. When root beer was first created, it was a "small beer," and had a low alcohol content like all small beers. At that time, the purity of water was always in question, and people used small beers instead of water. The alcohol content killed germs so that the water was safer to drink for people of all ages. Back then, a parent would have been crazy to give their kids plain water instead of beer. Now a parent would be considered crazy if they served alcohol to their offspring. Times change!

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