Wild Sarsaparilla

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Walking along Chippewa Creek in Brecksville Reservation, I noticed an unusual looking flower – Wild Sarsaparilla. The flowers form in sphere-shaped clusters.

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Native Americans and pioneers found many uses for the plant. The aromatic roots have long served as an ingredient in root beer.

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The tiny, white flowers ripen into blue-black berries in mid-summer which are eaten by wildlife. Its leaves rise well above the flower, leaving it on a leafless stalk.

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This plant has a large distribution in North America, especially in Canada. Wild sarsaparilla is a widespread, dominant understory species in many forests.

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The species part of its Latin name Aralia nudicaulis breaks down to meaning nudus “naked” and cauli “stalk.”

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