In reality, Sassafras, specifically White Sassafras (Sassafras albidum), is a tree native to the Eastern half of the United States. It has wide deciduous leaves that are deeply lobed. Fruits are small and blue-black in color, with a single seed inside.
Another type of Sassafras (Atherosperma Moschatum) is native to wet rainforests in the south east of Australia. It has fragrant flowers that face down for protection from rain which happens frequently in those forests.
In the Franchise, Sassafras is depicted as a shrub with green pointed leaves. The fruit, however, appears to be depicted similarly to the Northern Hemisphere Sassafras.
|“||However, I'm ecstatic to tell you that the oil you seek can be found in the rarest of Sassafras albidum plants that grow only on the Isle of Thizzian, the location of which I have included for you in its description.||”|
|— Trader Johann|
In actuality, safrole oil is extracted from the sassafrass plant. It has some culinary and traditional medicinal uses. All parts of the sassafras are edible, and was historically a flavoring for root beer. Native Americans used it extensively in cooking, as a preservative, a wound treatment, and the wood was good for fires as the oils are flammable. However, research has established that sassafras may cause liver damage, mainly from the safrole content. Safrole is also used in the production of the illegal drug, MDMA (Ecstasy).
In the episode, "Dawn of Destruction", Hiccup needs the oil of the sassafras plant for his as of yet secret project. Johann is unable to acquire it, but instead sends Hiccup to the Isle of Thizzian where he can harvest sassafras for himself. Hiccup and Astrid leave Dragon's Edge to go to the island to get the plants and spend some time together. However, Hiccup is unsure how exactly to extract the oil from the plant, and asks Astrid if she has any ideas. She says that would be something to ask Fishlegs, given his love for botany. So the couple picks some, appearing to have plans on taking it back to the Edge so Hiccup could consult Fishlegs about extracting the oil properly.
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