The fast-growing new stem of a sassafras is green and sports tender reddish leaves that will turn green as they mature. New sassafras growth is a valued springtime food source for white-tailed deer. Rabbits sometimes eat the bark. And bobwhite quail as well as many songbirds will eat the red fruits.
Sassafras trees generally do not grow large enough to make lumber, but do make good posts for fences. Old sassafras trees are often hollow, making good dens for a number of forest animals, including owls and squirrels.
The vine in this photo has been identified by a botanist friend who said it was a passion flower vine native to North America.
This passion flower vine is a perennial that in summer will exhibit an unusual small flower. World wide there are more than 450 species of passion flower. Only nine of these species are native to the continental U.S.
Through the Woods is a weekly nature photo column by Aaron Horrell. Find this column at semissourian.com to order a reprint of the photo. Find more work by him at the O'Tenem Gallery.