Perennial. Rich, shady, moist woods. Newfoundland to Georgia, west to Colorado and Idaho. Common in northern Ohio. May-June. Entire plant aromatic.

Root

Long, horizontal, aromatic.

Stem

One short stem to a plant; this bears one leaf-stem and one flower-stem. The flower-stem bears from three to five, usually three, umbels of greenish white flowers; the leaf-stem one large compound leaf.

Leaf

Long-stalked, compounded of three divisions, each of which has five leaflets, oblong-oval or ovate, serrate, pointed.

Flowers

Small, greenish white, borne in three to five umbels at the top of the flower-stem, more or less polygamous. Umbels two or more inches across.

Calyx

Tube, coherent with the ovary.

Petals

Five, oblong, strongly reflexed.

Stamens

Five, alternate with the petals, conspicuous.

Pistil

Ovary two to five-celled; styles two to five.

Fruit

Shining, dark-purple berries in clusters.

Pollinated by flies and bees.

Common in woods and thickets, itself always under shade, it shelters its three spreading umbels of greenish white flowers under the cover of a large, solitary, compound leaf. Its long horizontal roots are very grateful to many burrowing creatures, for they are not only near the surface, but appetizing as well. One of its country names is Rabbitroot.

In early spring the plant arises as a very short, smooth stem, which bears a tall leaf-stalk and a shorter, naked flower-stalk.

The single large leaf, of exquisite bronze tints when first it appears, is compounded of three to five ovate-toothed leaflets on each of its three divisions; later it fades to green.

The flower-stalk usually bears at its summit three crowded umbels of small greenish white flowers. The tiny five-parted flowers have their petals curved backward over the calyx, throwing the stamens into relief. The flowers are succeeded by clusters of dark-purple berries greatly loved by birds.

This is not the true Sarsaparilla of medicine, though often used as a substitute for it; that comes from a different herb, Smilax officinalis, a native of Mexico and South America.

Wild Sarsaparilla. Aralia nudicaulis Dwarf Ginseng. Panax trifolium

Wild Sarsaparilla. Aralia nudicaulis Dwarf Ginseng. Panax trifolium