Wild Sarsaparilla

Aralia nudicaulis

Wild sarsaparilla is a member of ginseng family. This is a woody vine that grows prostrate on the forest floor disguised as a group of small herbaceous plants. Each little “plant” is actually a single divided (compound) leaf originating from an interconnecting woody stem that is hidden under the forest litter. On rare occasions, the vine reveals itself by crawling up tree trunks. Wild sarsaparilla flowers only when it has plenty of light. Early in spring, when its leaves are not yet fully developed, it produces small greenish-white flowers in spherical clusters, each on a separate short stalk beneath the compound leaf. Pollinated by bees, flowers ripen into fleshy blue-black edible berries in mid-summer. The woody horizontal stem of wild sarsaparilla sometimes has substituted for sassafras in herbal medicine and the making of home-made root beer. In modern herbal medicine the plant is used as a primary remedy for Lyme disease.

See all photos for this species at salicicola.com

Flowering. May 23

Flowers. May 30

Fruiting. July 9

Fruits. July 9

September 24