Sassafras Trees
Q.

How to identify and mark sassafras saplings in winter for transplanting?

Zone zone 6 | Krystal Kissell added on June 9, 2019 | Answered

Unfortunately I am about to lose a beautiful young sassafras tree, about 5’ tall, which has been happily growing up under my big spruce tree. I was warned that I should get rid of the sassafras, as it will grow into the spruce which would have to be butchered in order to save the young tree. I don’t want to lose either one. But the spruce should have dibs, my late father planted it in 1981. I could transplant more sassafras, they are plentiful in my area and I read that they are fast growing. This young one under the spruce sure is! I had hopes it would not get very tall, but I understand that they can grow upwards of 90’ high! 😲 Anyway, I can easily get wild saplings. But how would be the best way to mark young trees to easily find them later? When trees are small and have no leaves to help identify them, they are essentially invisible. I could tie on colored string, or put out flags, but storms would make short work of that. - Thank You

A.
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BushDoctor
Certified GKH Gardening Expert
Answered on June 9, 2019

There are a few ways to go about this, I believe. The Sassafras sapling will likely survive a transplant during dormancy. This may be the easiest way since you can already ID the tree, regardless of time of year.

Another way to think about this is to take a softwood, or branch tip cutting in the spring when new growth is abundant. This article will help you to take a cutting of the tree so that the original can be taken out: https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/ornamental/trees/tgen/how-to-root-cuttings-from-various-shrubs-bushes-and-trees.htm

If none of these options will work, and you still want to find another from the wild, then I would get as familiar as possible with the bark, smell, or any other features of the trees that stick around. If not that, then you can try and tie a piece of colored plastic around a specimen to mark. Just make sure to remove it after you retrieve the tree.

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