Wild sarsaparilla

Prepared by Jennifer L. D’Appollonio, Assistant Scientist, University of Maine, Orono, ME 04469. April 2019.

Scientific name: Aralia nudicaulis L.

Common name(s): wild sarsaparilla, false sarsaparilla, wild liquorice, small spikenard, shot bush, rabbit root

Link(s): USDA PLANTS Profile, NPIN Profile, Go Botany

Images: (to see enlargements [PC]: click on image, then right click and choose “view image”)



-some consider it a small shrub

-leaves are:

  • compound
  • alternate

-blue-black berries

-the rhizome can be used to make sarsaparilla

  • has a sweet taste

-can reach 1-2 feet in height


-forest edges


Natural History:

-the rhizome can be a substitute for sassafras in making rootbeer



Go Botany. “Aralia Nudicaulis L.” Aralia Nudicaulis (Wild Sarsaparilla): Go Botany, 2021, gobotany.nativeplanttrust.org/species/aralia/nudicaulis/.