Fall or spring to transplant Sassafras albidum

j0nd03July 10, 2011

I have found a small seedling around 1-1.5 feet tall in an unmaintained part of our property. I have heard sassafras has fleshy roots and is sensitive to transplant but I am pretty sure I can get most of the roots with this little one.

Which season would be better to dig it up and transplant it?

It is starting to a little puny like most everything else around here and I think I am going to start watering it until we get some rain. Since I will be watering the baby, at any time before it is dug, should I sever any of the outer roots to promote more root growth towards the center of the tree?

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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

In your area, I'd transplant in fall (after dormancy) or at least by very early spring, IF the tree seems to be healthy and ready to transplant by then. I wouldn't consider transplanting one that was in less than great condition. I'm doubtful that root pruning this late would be beneficial for a transplant this fall.

You probably have already considered the possibility of the tree being a sucker from the root system of a nearby tree, but in case you haven't, you should.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2011 at 1:17AM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

PS...

If it is a sucker and you are going to try to transplant it, go ahead and sever the root link (both on the mother-tree side and the other side) now. If it doesn't make it, you'll have saved the work you would have had to do to transplant it. If it does make it, maybe it will have grown at least a few extra roots by then.

Also dig a rootball about twice as large as you would for most other types of trees that size.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2011 at 1:23AM
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j0nd03

There are no other sassafras that I can see in the area. It actually sprung up in the middle of a path I had cleared. I will inspect the area a little more closely when I water it today. Thanks Brandon.

I might throw up a pic of the leaves because I got pretty confused with sassafras and mulberry leaves earlier this year. I DO NOT need any more mulberry trees around here!

    Bookmark   July 10, 2011 at 10:37AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

the key is simply dormant.. leafless.. so there are no stresses on the tree trying to hold the leaves ...

when dormant above.. its root growing time ... so the most time you can give it .. before the next onslaught of high heat ... is best ..

up here in the great white north.. we are limited by ground freeze ... so we shoot for leaf fall [oct some time] or first weeks of april... as soon as the ground is thawed and drained ...

i add all this.. so you might digest all the varying info you might have been reading in your research ...

AS I UNDERSTAND .... having never lived where the ground does NOT freeze ... you have just about all winter to do it.. subject to the usually seasonal droughts associated with winter ...

i will therefor defer to peeps with more experience in warmer zones.. just had a felling you might like the learnin ...

ken

    Bookmark   July 10, 2011 at 10:54AM
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j0nd03

Ok, this is sassafras, right?


By jp_42_82 at 2011-07-13

    Bookmark   July 13, 2011 at 10:56AM
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arktrees(6b NW Arkansas)

Looks like it to me.

Arktrees

    Bookmark   July 13, 2011 at 11:09AM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

It is, and a droopy one at that. Is it real dry there?

    Bookmark   July 13, 2011 at 11:48AM
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j0nd03

Thanks Ark.

I have been sucked in to Dr. Master's blog on wunderground the last couple of days. Soooo much info.. and some of the posters are spending $250+ a year just to make their own tropical storm forecasts. Crazy!

    Bookmark   July 13, 2011 at 11:50AM
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j0nd03

About as dry as it has been with temps 105 or greater for 2 solid weeks straight with one exception. No rain since the end of May. I did water it with a 5 gallon bucket that I drilled a 1/8" hole into 2 times since the pic. The bottom leaves actually already turned crusty and a little yellow before I got to it. Gotta check on that baby when I get home today.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2011 at 11:53AM
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arktrees(6b NW Arkansas)

j)nd03,
I thought you might enjoy it. I like learning and studying the weather, but those people make me feel like a two year old with a toy truck. Glad your enjoying. BTW, if you haven't noticed, there are plenty of past blogs that are very interesting, and be sure to read his account of flying into Hurricane Hugo with the Hurricane Hunter's, and almost NOT making it back.

Arktrees

    Bookmark   July 13, 2011 at 2:09PM
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naturegirl_2007 5B SW Michigan(5B SW Michigan)

For backup, try collecting and planting seeds near the tree after it is transplanted. Then if the transplant doesn't make it, you should have a seedling that will grow quickly. If the transplant thrives, just yank the tiny ones.

The tree moving advice above is good. However, I know people who successfully move most trees and struggle repeatedly with sassafras. It's a challenging one to transplant but easy to grow from seed.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2011 at 9:55AM
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j0nd03

Naturegirl, when is the appropriate time to collect seed for sassafras? I assume immature seed should already be visible on a mature tree.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2011 at 11:46AM
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naturegirl_2007 5B SW Michigan(5B SW Michigan)

In southern Michigan seeds are ready in Sept. or Oct. They are easy to spot then because the fruit is dark blue and sits in a scarlet base attached to a bright red stem. We're at the northern edge of sassafras range so most trees don't get very large and it is easy to spot the fruit ...especially if I am hiking 30 miles or so to the south where spring frost are less likely to nip the flowers. I'm not sure when seeds would be ready by you but you should be able to spot the unripe fruit clusters now and keep an eye on them. If the trees by you are all really tall you can watch for dropped seeds under them when the fruits are ripe. Birds like the fruit and often drop some of the seeds while feeding. Of course they eat some of the fruit whole and fly away before "planting" the undigested seed in a new place. Maybe that's how yours traveled to its spot.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2011 at 2:46PM
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j0nd03

I have searched our property pretty well and have found a few young sassafras only about 6-10' in height. I know the 3 on my property are not seed bearing. I will take a look at the other one with my son this weekend. The problem is I live in a rural area and the "mother" trees are probably smack in the middle of someone else's property.

Arktrees has hit me with the "raising from seed" bug so I might collect and pot up for experimenting, too. Don't worry, I will leave some for the birds, too ;-)

And I guess as an update: although we returned to 108* yesterday, on Wednesday we actually got .4" rain at my house and the baby did perk up quite a bit


By jp_42_82 at 2011-07-15

    Bookmark   July 15, 2011 at 3:04PM
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j0nd03

Drove all around this morning and couldn't find a mature specimen. I did locate 8 trees, but none had any fruit. I think I can safely say the local sassafras are among the least drought tolerant. They and black cherry seem to be turning fall colors and dropping leaves.

My mother told me about some old sassafras trees at my grandmothers house by her barn. So all hope is not lost on the seed front.

It is currently 104 and the seedling in question is back to being droopy...

A couple of pics of leaves I encountered today:


By jp_42_82 at 2011-07-16


By jp_42_82 at 2011-07-16

Beautiful shades of orange, yellow and red. Almost creamy but vivid. I REALLY want that in my yard!

    Bookmark   July 16, 2011 at 3:45PM
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j0nd03

Here she sat
All bare and lonely
Dropped her leafs
Sticking up, stem only

I looked at it
And it looked frail
Tried to bend it
Then the wood failed

It broke to the ground
All the way down

My dream is no more
For there was no rain
And then last night it poured
However in vain


By jp_42_82 at 2011-08-10

Ark has shared a good source for sassafras with me. I will be ordering form soonerplantfarm this fall.

John

    Bookmark   August 10, 2011 at 9:18AM
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esh_ga

What a charming poem. I can NEVER find a plant in fruit around here. But I dig them up and dig them up and about 50% of the time, I get lucky. I've got several waiting in pots for the fall, then I will plant them.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2011 at 11:51AM
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j0nd03

Yeah esh, I have given up on finding seed. I think pretty all the seed by now, here at least, was probably shed to conserve energy for the mother tree.

Also, just for you, an improved version with more finality at the end.

Here she sat
All bare and lonely
Dropped her leafs
Sticking up, stem only

I looked at it
And it looked frail
Tried to bend it
Then the wood failed

It broke to the ground
All the way down

My dream is no more
For there was no rain
And then last night it poured
However in vain

For the Sassafras Albidum
Rotting in its own medium
Dead and naked
Composting on the forest floor

*closes topic curtain

    Bookmark   August 10, 2011 at 12:14PM
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