Sarsaparilla, Wild

Medical Herbs Catalogue


Sarsaparilla, Wild

Botanical Name: Aralia nudicaulis (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Araliaceae

Synonyms: Bamboo Brier. Smilax Sarsaparilla.
Part Used: Root.
Habitat: A native of the southern United States and grows in swampy woods and thickets.

Description: It has a stout, flexuous and square stem, with a few hooked prickles above. Leaves unarmed, elliptical-ovate, cuspidate, abruptly contracted at each end; three strong veins, two lateral smaller secondary ones; underside glaucous, 3 inches diameter, on short margined petioles, with two long tendrils at their bases. Flowers yellowish-white, appearing May to August, in small thin umbels of three or four red or black berries, three-seeded.

Medicinal Action and Uses: Alterative, tonic, antisyphilitic. Said to be inferior to all other Sarsaparillas. Much used by the American Indians. Used freely in decoction.

Other Species:
Smilax Medica has an angular stem armedwith straight prickles at joints, and a few hooked ones at intervals; paper-like leaves, bright green both sides, smooth, cordate, auriculate, shortly acuminate, five-nerved prominent veins underneath and otherwise variable in form. Mid-rib and petioles, when old, have straight, subulate prickles, peduncles three lines to 1 inch; umbels twelve flowers; pedicle three lines long. Found growing in Papantla, Inspan, etc. Said to be similar to the Mexican or Vera Cruz Sarsapa of commerce, which may be derived from this species.

SARSAPARILLA MEXICAN (Synonym. Vera Cruz Sarsaparilla), as found in commerce, has a caudex with a number of long radicles which are smaller and have a thinner bark than the Honduras variety, contain little starch and have square endodermal cells with thickened walls, and more or less oval lumen. The taste is acrid and the plant contains the medical properties of other Sarsaparillas.