Aralia nudicaulis

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Plant types and subtypes: Perennials

Light Requirements: part-sun, part-shade

Water Use: medium

Soil Moisture: moist

Soil Description: rich, average, loam, sand, gravel/rock

Height: 1'-2'

Bloom Time: May, June

Bloom Color: white, green, brown

Leaf Color: green

Hardiness Zone: 4, 5, 6, 7, 8

Additional Tags: attracts birds, berries, colonizing, edible, fragrant root, naturalizing, shade garden plant, showy fruit, woodland plant

Aralia nudicaulis (wild sarsaparilla)
  • Aralia nudicaulis (wild sarsaparilla)
  • Aralia nudicaulis (wild sarsaparilla)
  • Aralia nudicaulis (wild sarsaparilla)

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Description

Aralia nudicaulis

Also known as:

wild sarsaparilla

,

false sarsaparilla

,

shot bush

,

small spikenard

,

wild licorice

,

rabbit root

Scientific Synonyms:

Description

Aralia nudicaulis is a woodland perennial wildflower that typically grows to a height of 24". Each plant produces a single leaf stalk that is divided into 3 compound leaves, each one of which is comprised of 7 ovate, finely serrated leaflets that are up to 2" across and 5" long. Each plant also produces a single flowering stalk below the leaves. It is erect, typically branched, and bears 3 conspicuous, terminal, round umbels of whitish flowers that are up to 2" in diameter. These give way to equally conspicuous purplish, to black, berries.

Cultivation

Wild sarsaparilla is easy to grow in areas with filtered light. It prefers moist soil rich in organic material, but can withstand dry spells as well as periods of inundation. Under ideal conditions it will spread vegetatively by means of horizontal rhizomes to form large colonies. The bloom period lasts under a month and can occur from mid spring to early summer. Zones 4-8

Propagation

Easy to propagate by dividing the rootsock when plants are dormant. Wild sarsaparilla can be grown from seed, although the seedlings are slow to mature.

Additional Notes

Wild Sarsaparilla has been used as a substitute for genuine Sarsaparilla to flavor root beer. Wild Sarsaparilla is related to Panax quinquefolius (American Ginseng) which can be easily differentiated by its red berries.

Native Range & Classification

Recorded County Distribution: USDA data

Native Range:
CO, CT, DC, DE, GA, IA, ID, IL, IN, KY, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, MT, NC, ND, NE, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, RI, SC, SD, TN, VA, VT, WA, WI, WV, WY

Classification

Kingdom Plantae Plants
Subkingdom Tracheobionta Vascular plants
Superdivision Spermatophyta Seed plants
Division Magnoliophyta Flowering plants
Class Magnoliopsida Dicotyledons
Subclass Rosidae
Order Apiales
Family Araliaceae Ginseng family
Genus Aralia spikenard
Species Aralia nudicaulis wild sarsaparilla