Nature

Mistaken Identification | Sassafras or Osage?


I’d assumed the tree was a sassafras, and that brilliant orange bark peeling off in papery layers was sassafras root bark. However boy, I made a giant mistake. I’ve spent lots of years studying to determine the vegetation right here, together with bushes. So how did this mistaken id occur?

I made assumptions. That’s the way it occurred.

Assumptions Led to the Mistaken Identification

That stated, I didn’t have a complete lot of the tree to work with. I discovered a partial tree washed down within the creek a couple of years again. What caught my eye was the intense orange roots. The bark was peeling off in skinny, papery layers. Floodwaters apparently had uprooted and carried it beneath the bridge to snag on rocks close to the center of the creek.

Assumptions led to mistaken identity for this tree trunk. It's osage, not sassafras.
Eye-catching orange

Why Did I Assume it was Sassafras?

To be trustworthy, I’m unsure. I even went towards my very own misgivings, as a result of there was no detectable scent in any respect of sassafras, even once I scratched. Nonetheless, the tree had been within the water and solar for nearly a full summer season earlier than I lastly gave in to the urge and went out to collect the bark. So I figured, since it’s an fragrant that causes the scent, that it had dissipated in any case that publicity to components. I by no means suspected I had a case of mistaken id.

Most individuals use sassafras root bark as a tonic or ingredient in hand-crafted root beer. It’s what provides root beer that traditional odor. However I used to be solely within the coloration. It teased me all yr lengthy, each time I crossed that bridge. When the water receded and it grew to become beached on the rocks, that’s once I went to get a more in-depth look. And naturally I gathered the entire free bark from it that I might. At this level, I had already assumed it was sassafras, and hadn’t bothered to confirm that identification.

‘Barking’ up the Improper Tree

I’d made a pleasant yellow from sassafras leaves earlier than, with good lightfastness. The odd factor was that the yellow intensified through the publicity to daylight. The bark I’d gathered from that tree stump, even when it was a case of mistaken id, made a stunning orange light-fast pigment, and it did the identical factor – obtained a lot stronger on publicity to daylight. And so I grew to become extra snug calling it sassafras root bark. It was the pigment I wanted, and that was all I actually cared about.

My forager bag of Osage root bark.
Osage root bark in my foraging again

But when ever I wish to collect extra of that bark, I’ll by no means discover it if I’m trying on the roots of the incorrect tree.

Correcting the Mistaken Identification

That is really the roots of an Osage orange tree (Maclura pomifera). Yesterday as I used to be organizing some photographs to accompany an upcoming article for Ozarks Watch journal, I made a decision on a whim to go looking on-line for what the roots of Osage bushes. My intestine intuition was proper on this time, and there on the prime of the search return was an article describing these fascinating roots.

And so now I must comb via this web site and my others, correcting that mistaken id all over the place I’ve posted about that attractive orange root bark.

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Creator/Artist Information
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Madison Woods is a self-taught artist who moved to the Ozarks from south Louisiana in 2005. In 2018 she started experimenting with watercolor portray, utilizing her native pigments. She calls them Paleo Paints, and her paintings options solely the lightfast pigments foraged from Madison county, Arkansas. Her inspiration is nature – the sweetness, and the inherent cycle of life and dying, destruction and regeneration.

Her on-line portfolio is at www.MadisonWoods.artwork.

Click on right here to hitch her mailing listing.

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