Wild Sarsaparilla (Aralia nudicaulis)
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Wild Flowers of Sleepy Hollow Lake
- Wild Sarsaparilla (Aralia nudicaulis) -

(Sarsaparilla, Wild - 01)  Wild sarsaparilla is a common woodland plant that grows to heights of 1 to 2 feet and looks very much like a young tree with a spreading canopy of leaves.  Until Mary spotted these flowers growing underneath the leaves, we had never thought of it as being a wildflower.

 

 

 

(Sarsaparilla, Wild - 02)  The small greenish-white flowers of the wild sarsaparilla form in globular clusters.  These have not fully opened.

 

 

 

 

 

(Sarsaparilla, Wild - 03)  The flowers of the wild sarsaparilla  can only be seen by looking at an angle through the leaves or under the plant, as in this photo.  The flower stalk grows separately from the ground, adjacent to the leaf stalk which can be seen rising much higher than the flowers.  At the top of the photo, the leaf stems can be seen branching from the main stem.  We have also observed that only a fraction of the wild sarsaparilla plants have flowers.

 

(Sarsaparilla, Wild - 03a)  This is a closer look at the top of the wild sarsaparilla leaf stalk where it branches into three compound leaves.

 

 

 

(Sarsaparilla, Wild - 04)  The flower stem of the left wild sarsaparilla can be seen rising from the ground adjacent to the main stem.  The right wild sarsaparilla stem has no flowers.

 

 

 

(Sarsaparilla, Wild - 05)  This photo illustrates how difficult it can be to spot the wild sarsaparilla flowers below the dense leaf canopy.

 

 

 

 

(Sarsaparilla, Wild - 05a)  In this photo of the wild sarsaparilla leaflets, we can see their finely toothed edges.

 

 

 

 

 

(Sarsaparilla, Wild - 06)  In order to take this photo of the wild sarsaparilla flowers, we had to hold back the leaves.  Usually the leaves are so clustered together that it is hard to see that each leaf has five leaflets, as can be seen in the lower right of the photo.

 

 

 

(Sarsaparilla, Wild - 06a)  In this photo, we have another example of the flower and leaf stalks of the wild sarsaparilla rising separately from the ground.  We can also see that some of the tiny flowers have opened, displaying their five petals.

 

 

 

 

(Sarsaparilla, Wild - 06b)  In this photo of wild sarsaparilla, we can see that the flower and leaf stalks each have three terminal branching stems of flowers or leaves.

 

 

 

(Sarsaparilla, Wild - 07)  This is another look at the three round clusters of wild sarsaparilla flowers.

 

 

 

 

(Sarsaparilla, Wild - 08)  Wild sarsaparilla grow from long, fleshy, creeping, horizontal rhizomes that are between 1-1/4 and 4-1/2 inches below the surface of the ground.

 

 

 

(Sarsaparilla, Wild - 09)  A young wild sarsaparilla is shown in the lower right of the photo.

 

 

 

 

(Sarsaparilla, Wild - 10)  This is a close up look at the wild sarsaparilla flowers which, with their petals fully extended, are only slightly over 1/8 inch in diameter.

 

 

 

 

(Sarsaparilla, Wild - 11)  This somewhat separated wild sarsaparilla plant provides a good opportunity to view its identifying features of three compound leaves with five leaflets (1-terminal leaf and 4 lateral leaves which grow in pairs opposite one another).

 

 

 

 

(Sarsaparilla, Wild - 12)  By slipping the camera below the canopy of the wild sarsaparilla leaves, we were able to take this photo of the flowers.

 

 

 

 

(Sarsaparilla, Wild - 13)  This is another look at the wild sarsaparilla flowers.

 

 

 

 

(Sarsaparilla, Wild - 14)  We could not find any description of the components of the wild sarsaparilla flower.  From our observation, each flower has 5 petals, which are relatively easy to discern, 5 stamens, which seem to grow on the inside of each flower and terminate at the juncture of the petals, and 5 long pistils which appear to fan out from the center of the flower, between the stamens.

 

 

 

 

(Sarsaparilla, Wild - 15)  When clustered together, as in this photo, wild sarsaparilla are hard to identify individually, but because of their unique appearance, they are relatively easy to distinguish from other plants growing in the woods.  Wild sarsaparilla are members of the Ginseng (Araliaceae) family, which is the reason for the scientific name, Aralia.  The other part of the scientific name, nudicaulis, comes from the Latin nudus, meaning "bare" or naked", and the Greek kaulos, meaning "stem" or "bare stem".

 

(Sarsaparilla, Wild - 16)  This is a bee's eye view of some of the wild sarsaparilla flowers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Sarsaparilla, Wild - 17)  In this 50-60 times enlargement of a single wild sarsaparilla flower, we can more easily identify the 5 petals, 5 stamens, and 5 pistils.

 

 

 

 

(Sarsaparilla, Wild - 18)  As the flowers of the wild sarsaparilla mature, the round flower cluster begins to flatten out.  The blue-black fruit of the wild sarsaparilla are berry-like in appearance and contain an average of 5 seeds.  One reference indicated that only about one-fourth of the uneaten fruit seeds germinate, while nearly three-fourths of the seeds remaining in the feces of black bears who ate the fruit germinated.

 

 

(Sarsaparilla, Wild - 19)  This is a photo of the wild sarsaparilla flower clusters after the petals have fallen off.  The seeds in the ovaries will soon mature.
 

 

 

 

| Wild Flowers of SHL: Photo Identification, Common Name, Scientific Name | Art and Photos |

Presented here are just a few of the countless components of God's creation.  Just as we cannot have human and animal life without water and plants, neither can we have lasting peace without love and compassion.  It is our hope and prayer that this series will motivate people to live and act in a cruelty-free manner; that we would no longer hurt or destroy each other, the animals or our environment.

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