I seem to remember that being a line in some old western movie, maybe more than one, and have read that it was the precursor to root beer. After wandering through the woods around Atkins Reservoir last Monday morning enjoying all the lady’s slippers I headed back to the car and noticed this Wild Sarsaparilla plant-Aralia nudicaulis along the side of the path.
The root is a rhizome and is the source of the drink mentioned above, root beer, although I imagine the vast majority of that soda is now chemically flavored rather than naturally.
The flowers form a globe which in turn become dark red or black berries as the plant matures. They are sometimes used in various home remedies for a list of ailments but are a bit distasteful. The root is by far the most widely used and sweetest part of the plant. The drink was also concocted using Sassafras.
Wild Sarsaparilla is found in most of the U.S. except for the Southwestern states.
On a side but slightly related note, about 47 years ago I worked at a furniture store in Springfield, MA and on Saturday we’d have the TV on tuned to one station all day which included cartoons. Even as an adult I enjoyed one particular feature on Saturday morning that was of course aimed at children but I found it a fun interruption in the cartoons. Schoolhouse Rock had such topics as Science Rock, Multiplication Rock, and Grammar Rock which had this little short film loosely related to today’s post. I’ve embedded it rather than linking to avoid the commercial at the beginning.