I was out hiking today, and, as I often do, I absentmindedly chewed on twigs that I broke off from around shoulder height. I noticed that one twig had a spicy, citrus flavor. It reminded me of mandarin orange. Unfortunately, I had walked away from the plant I took the twig from before I noticed the taste. I saved a bit of the twig, and I took a picture of it. I live in Connecticut. Can anybody help me identify the plant?

Connecticut Twig


1 Answer 1


It could have been sassafras (Sassafras albidum). All parts of the plant are aromatic and spicy. This citrusy quality has made it popular as a culinary flavoring, but the essential oil, which contains a phenylpropene called safrole, has been found to be a weak hepatocarcinogen in rats. Thus culinary sassafras oil is now for the most part devoid of safrole.

Also, the bark, color (interior and exterior) looks right, as well as the branching habit. Here's the range map. Pictures:

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