Wild Sarsaparilla (Aralia nudicaulis)

Common Name Latin Name Plant Family
Wild Sarsaparilla
Aralia nudicaulis
Araliaceae

None known

  • Medicinal Use

    Wild sarsaparilla is a sweet pungent tonic herb that acts as an alterative. It had a wide range of traditional uses amongst the North American Indians and was at one time widely used as a substitute for the tropical medicinal herb sarsaparilla[222, 257].

    The root is alterative, diaphoretic, diuretic, pectoral and stimulant[4, 21, 213, 222]. The herb encourages sweating, is stimulating and detoxifying and so is used internally in the treatment of pulmonary diseases, asthma, rheumatism, stomach aches etc[4, 213, 238, 254, 257]. Externally it is used as a poultice in treating rheumatism, sores, burns, itchy skin, ulcers and skin problems such as eczema[4, 222, 254]. The root is collected in late summer and the autumn and dried for later use[4, 213].

    A drink made from the pulverised roots is used as a cough treatment[213].

    A poultice made from the roots and/or the fruit is applied to sores, burns, itchy skin, ulcers, swellings etc[213, 222].

    A homeopathic remedy made from the roots is important in the treatment of cystitis[238].

  • Edible Use

    The rootstock is used as a flavouring[102], it is a substitute for sarsaparilla[43] and is also used for making ‘root beer'[183]. It is also used as an emergency food[177] (usually mixed with oil[257]), having a sweet spicy taste and a pleasant aromatic smell[4]. A nutritious food[207], it was used by the Indians during wars or when they were hunting since it is very sustaining[213].

    Young shoots – cooked as a potherb[207].

    A refreshing herbal tea is made from the root[183]. Pleasantly flavoured[222, 238]. The roots are boiled in water until the water is reddish-brown[256].

    A jelly is made from the fruit[207]. The fruit is also used to make wine[257]. The fruit is about 6mm in diameter[200].

  • Cautionary Notes

    None known

Cultivation & Habitat

Seed – best sown as soon as ripe in a cold frame. Stored seed requires 3 – 5 months of cold stratification. Germination usually takes place within 1 – 4 months at 20¡c[134]. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in light shade in a greenhouse for at least their first winter. Once the plants are 25cm or more tall, they can be planted out into their permanent positions, late spring or early summer being the best time to do this. Root cuttings 8cm long, December in a cold frame[11, 78]. Store the roots upside down in sand and pot up in March/April. High percentage[78]. Division of suckers in late winter[11]. Very easy, the suckers can be planted out direct into their permanent positions if required.
Prefers a good deep loam and a semi-shady position[1, 134]. Requires a sheltered position[1]. Plants are hardier when grown in poorer soils[200]. The young growth in spring, even on mature plants, is frost-tender and so it is best to grow the plants in a position sheltered from the early morning sun[K].
N. America – Newfoundland to Manitoba, south to N. Carolina and Missouri.

Become ungovernable, break the chains of the matrix; grow and forage your own food and medicine.

*None of the information on this website qualifies as professional medical advice. Take only what resonates with your heart and use your own personal responsibility for what’s best for you. For more information [brackets] [000], see bibliography.