Monday, August 16, 2010

The Sassy Mitten Tree -- Harbinger of Fall

Ohhhhh, yes!  The leaves are turning color.  Of course, we know the color change--so early this year--is because of the drought.  But, hey!  Let's not quibble!  We're at least on the threshhold of one of the most spectacular events in Appalachia:  the unrivaled fall color display.

First up, so far?  My beloved Sassy Mitten tree!  The Sassafras.  The Root Beer tree! (It's been found to be carcinogenic, though, so don't grind up those roots for root beer!  Stick with the "store-bought" flavoring on that one.)  Nonetheless, its lovely to put a crushed root under your nose once in awhile, just to swoon on that marvelous fragrance.

As for the "mitten" part?  See the "mitten" in the leaf?  Not all leaves ARE mitten-shaped on the Sassafras.  And some have two thumbs, others only one, and some, none at all.  Somehow I find a tree that has an assortment of different leaf shapes amusing.  And, soon they'll all be in autumn garb.

Some say the leaves smell like citrus; some say the root contains antiseptic qualities (for topical application only); others claim the bark takes the fire out of poison ivy and poison oak.  (may be worth a try!)

Whatever the assigned qualities, when the Sassy Mitten Tree starts to turn color, you know fall isn't far behind!  And, in this past summer's heat, that's a remedy all by itself!


  1. Beautiful colors! Our sassafras trees aren't showing any color at this point.

  2. I'm so envious that you are going into autumn with all it's glorious colours though glad we are heading into spring and some warmth. We've had torrential rain here in the last week - so much I sunk knee deep into mud on one of the garden paths! Enjoy your last few weeks of summer. Julia

  3. Elora -- The mitten tree -- a good name for the sassafras tree. I believe your color is starting earlier than mine in Ky -- probably because we have tons of rain. -- barbara