WILD SARSAPARILLA—Is the plant that I am sending you wild ginseng? It has the three branches with five leaves on a branch, but no flowers from the top.
No, the plant is not ginseng, but is what is known as wild sarsaparillas, and is frequently mistaken for ginseng, especially by parties residing in Western Canada, where it seems the plant must be abundant. Parties who are confused on these two plants can save themselves and me a lot of trouble if they will keep in mind the fact that ginseng does not grow wild in western Canada. Wild sarsaparilla has stems and leaves resembling ginseng very much, any way the description of one would answer for the other, if we would stop there. But when you see the plants side by side you will note quite a difference in the size, color, and texture of the leaves. Also remember that the berries frequently found on the sarsaparilla plant are black, while the berries of ginseng are red. Note also that there is a marked difference in the roots. The roots of wild sarsaparilla are slender (about one-fourth inch thick), long, and hold their thickness well, while the ginseng root is short and thick, like a dwarf parsnip or carrot, hut less perfect, often having branches. It also has many little rootlets. Wild sarsaparilla grows abundantly in all of the eastern states. Especially in the mountains, and I believe in Eastern Canada and in the states about the Great Lakes.
Harding, A.R.. 3001 Questions and Answers. Columbus, Oh: A.R. Harding, 1913.
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