Flowers: clustered in an umbel on a short naked scape. Calyx: short; with five small teeth. Corolla: of five petals. Stamens: five. Pistil: one. Fruit: dark purple. Leaves: one only; growing much higher than the flowers and divided into five oval toothed leaflets on each of the three petioles. Roots: slender; running horizontally.
It is said that the gods compensate an ugly mother by giving her a beautiful child, and we often notice that rather plain-looking flowers produce very attractive fruit. It is so with the wild sarsaparilla, the close bunches of dark, shining berries protected by their handsome leaves being a conspicuous feature of the late summer woods. The roots are gathered and sold in quantities to flavour summer drinks, or as a substitute for the genuine sarsaparilla.