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At one time, the roots of Wild Sarsaparilla were used as a substitute for genuine Sarsaparilla to flavor root beer, hence the common name of this woodland wildflower. Wild Sarsaparilla is related to the better known Panax quinquefolius (American Ginseng). This latter species differs from Wild Sarsaparilla by its palmate leaflets and red berries. Other Aralia spp. in Illinois are, in most cases, woody shrubs or trees. An exception is Aralia racemosa (American Spikenard), which is a much larger plant with more leaflets (9-21) per leaf segment.


Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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