Wild Sarsaparilla or False sarsaparilla (Aralia nudicaulis) is a flowering plant of northern and eastern North America which reaches a height of 1–2 feet (30-60 cm) with creeping under ground stems. In the spring the under ground stems produce compound leaves that are large and finely toothed. Tiny white flowers, in typically three, globe shaped clusters 1.5–2 inches (4-5 cm) wide produced on tall scapes that grow about the same hight as the leaves, bloom from May to July, and ripen into purple-black comestible berries. The leaves go dormant in summer before the fruits ripen. The berries taste a little spicy and sweet.
This species is similar to Aralia hispida (Bristly Sarsaparilla) which is a little larger with stems covered with bristly hairs, hence the name. The stems of A. nudicaulis are smooth.
The roots have been used as substitutes for true Sarsaparilla (Smilax sp.) in herbal medicine.
Other names are Shot bush, Small Spikenard, Wild Liquorice, Rabbit Root, Wild Sarsaparilla.
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