This section is from the book "Wild Flowers East Of The Rockies", by Chester A. Reed. Also available from Amazon: Wild Flowers East Of The Rockies.
A family of herbs with compound leaves and usually perfect, tiny flowers in umbels or clusters.
Wild Sarsaparilla (Aralia Nudicaulis) has a single large, compound leaf on a long stem from the creeping, fragrant, aromatic root; the leaf is divided into three branching divisions, each containing five ovate, toothed leaflets. This single leaf is often mistakenly called three. The flowers are gathered into three, rounded umbels, on short pedicels, from the top of a long stem that joins the leaf-stem near its base; each cluster bears many, tiny, five-parted, greenish-white flowers with reflexed petals. It is a very decorative plant, common in moist woodland from Newfoundland to Minn, and southwards. It is often locally known as "Umbrella-plant" because of the manner in which the large leaf spreads protecting-ly over the round, flower clusters.
Wild Sarsaparilla. Aralia nudicaulis.
Ginseng (Panax Quinquefolium) is well known as the plant that is collected and cultivated for the thick, fleshy, branching roots. Enormous quantities of these roots are annually shipped to China, where they command large prices because of supposed medicinal properties. The plant grows from 8 to 18 inches high. Three compound leaves, each consisting of five, ovate-pointed, toothed, short-stemmed leaflets, radiate from near the top of the smooth stem. From six to twenty, tiny, 5-parted, yellowish-white flowers are in a round umbel, on a slender, upright peduncle above the leaves. It is found in rich, cold woods from Quebec to Minn, and South to Ala. and Mo.
Dwarf Ginseng (Panax Trifolium) is a tiny species from 4 to 8 inches high. It has a spherical root, slender stem, three leaves compounded of three leaflets each, and numerous, tiny white flowers in an umbel above them. Common in rich woods from N. S. to Minn, and southwards.