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common name for the Lauraceae, a family of forest trees and shrubs found mainly in tropical SE Asia but also abundant in tropical America. Most have aromatic bark and foliage and are evergreen; deciduous species are usually those that extend into temperate zones.
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a genus of deciduous trees and shrubs of the family Lauraceae. The leaves are entire, pinnate, or twice- to seven-times-lobed. The small, yellow-green flowers are in an axillary dichasium. The fruit is drupe. There are three species, distributed along the eastern seaboard of North America, in continental regions of China, and on Taiwan.
The common sassafras (S. albidum, or S. officinale), an aromatic dioecious tree reaching 20 m tall, is distributed in North America. It propagates by seeds and root suckers. The plant has been introduced into European gardens and parks; in the USSR it is found in Sukhumi. The essential oil contained throughout the plant, but mainly in the cortex of the roots, is used in perfumery. The soft, lightweight wood is used in the production of furniture, small boats, barrels, and railroad ties.