South Dakota Native Plant Research
Araliaceae : Aralia nudicaulis

Araliaceae : Aralia nudicaulis


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Family Name


Common Name

Wild sarsaparilla


Aralia nudicaulis is an aromatic acaulescent perennial herb With leaves and peduncles arising from long rhizomes. The compound leaves are usually solitary, erect and ternate with each division divided into 3-5 segments. The leaves are attached to petioles up to 50 cm long and the leaflets are lace-elliptic to obovate5-13 cm long acuminate with finely serrate margins. The peduncles are usually solitary, 5-13 cm long with 2-6 umbels. The 5 sepals are les than 1 mm long and the green to white petals are 1-2 mm long. The fruit are purplish black drupes 6-10 mm in diameter. Wild sarsaparilla blooms from May to July in woods in both east and west river South Dakota.

Additional Notes

The roots and rhizomes of wild sarsaparilla have been used to make root beer and the fruits are spicey-sweet. In the garden they attract bees, flies and beetle pollinators and the fruits attract several bird species.

Horticulture Notes

Seed Collection: fruits can be collected when dark colored and seeds recovered from gently macerated pulp.

Germination: Seeds are dormant and need cold treatment to germinate. Planting them in the fall is usually successful.

Vegetative propagation: Rhizomes can be divided and transplanted in fall or spring.

Soils: Plants tolerate a broad range of soils.

Water: plants do best in moist soils but can tolerate relatively dry conditions.

Light: Do well in shade to full sun.

Araliaceae : Aralia nudicaulis