May 24 2014

Wild Sarsaparilla

Published by at 6:45 am under Plants

Wild Sarsaparilla (photo by Dianne Machesney)

This plant is hard to look up if you say it the way I do:  sass-pa-rilla.   My pronunciation eliminates two critical letters at the beginning of the word.  Fortunately Google anticipated my mistake and offered sar-sa-pa-rilla when I spelled it without the additional "R" and "A."

Wild sarsaparilla (Aralia nudicaulis) is common in rich woods in northeastern North America. Even when it's blooming you'll notice its leaves first. They're more than a foot tall and grow on a long stem that splits into three compound leaves.  (Click here to see.)

The flowers are arranged as an echo of the leaves but because the flower and leaf stems grow directly from the ground they appear to be unrelated plants.  Follow the stems and you'll see.

In a typical year wild sarsaparilla would be blooming today but in this cold spring it's probably delayed.  Look for it in the Laurel Highlands.


(photo by Dianne Machesney)

2 responses so far

2 Responses to “Wild Sarsaparilla”

  1. The Wild Sowon 24 May 2014 at 10:50 am

    I knew about the silent “R” but never noticed that 2nd “A!”

  2. John Thomsonon 27 May 2014 at 3:56 pm

    Root Beer is easier. I just knew those cowboy movies weren’t authentic.

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