When mid-May is here and the settled feeling of early summer has come to the woods -when the trees all have their Leaves and once again there is unaccustomed deep shade, and the birds which nest here have all arrived - the wild sarsapa-rilla blooms. Its leaves stand on stiff stems two feet or so above the forest floor. Each stem branches three times as compound oval leaves. The plant looks something like the ginseng, bu1 on examination it has great differences. Now one of those differences, the flower stalk rising separately from the stem, stands almost half as tall as the plant and branches three directions. On each of the three forks there is a round cluster of small greenish-yellow flowers with protruding stamens. For a little while, the sarsaparilla blooms, and then the little flowers fall away and by June there are tiny green fruits where the flowers grew. By this time the woods are growing weedy and deeply shadowed; the red-eyed vireo sings all day. no matter how hot. and the wood thrush is nesting in an oak.
Aralia nudicaulis L.
May. Hilly woods.
By late summer and early autumn the Aralia has a cluster of deep maroon fruits which resemble elderberries, bu1 are not as soft as the latter. Robins often eat them.
Meanwhile the leaves have ripened and -cut their food into the fleshy roots down in the wood- earth. They are stout roots which are aromatic and spicy; they frequently have been used a- a substitute for the true sarsaparilla, a tropical Smilax.