Walking along Chippewa Creek in Brecksville Reservation, I noticed an unusual looking flower – Wild Sarsaparilla. The flowers form in sphere-shaped clusters.
Native Americans and pioneers found many uses for the plant. The aromatic roots have long served as an ingredient in root beer.
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.
This plant has a large distribution in North America, especially in Canada. Wild sarsaparilla is a widespread, dominant understory species in many forests.
The species part of its Latin name Aralia nudicaulis breaks down to meaning nudus “naked” and cauli “stalk.”