Hmm. Now the Netscape hosted images are temporarily broken, and live journal’s servers are bumpy. Bigfoot email is grousing at me that I get more than 25 emails through there a day now…we’ll have to see what’s up with that. Sasparillasasparilla…a lovely herb.
General – stemless perennial; a single leaf (up to 50 cm high) rises above the short flower stalk, both produced from a stout woody rhizome.

Leaves – a single, long-stalked compound, basal leaf divided into 3 groups of 3-5 leaflets; leaflets elongated lance- to egg-shaped, finely toothed on the margins.

Flowers – numerous, in 2 – 7 (usually 3) umbrella or ball-shaped clusters on top of a leafless stalk; individual flowers very small, with 5 greenish-white petals; naked, flowering stems hidden under leaf; appearing early summer.

Fruit – berries, nearly black when ripe, in a cluster; edible but not palatable; ripening mid-summer.

Habitat- Common; occurring across a broad range of forest habitats and soil/site conditions, especially in dry to moist hardwoods and mixed-woods, less often in coniferous forests and on moist/wet sites.

Notes: The rhizome was used by North American Indians both for medicine and as food. European settlers made wine from the berries and a form of root beer was made from the rhizome. In the 1800’s, sarsaparilla was popular as a spring tonic.

Height: 24-36 in. (60-90 cm) Hardly a tree, methinks!

Bloom Color: Pale Green / White

Bloom Time: Late Spring/Early Summer

Herbal Usage – Hormonal precursor which is used to increase energy, protect against harm from radiation exposure, regulate hormones, and it also contains diuretic properties.. Useful for frigidity, hives, impotence, infertility, nervous system disorders, premenstrual syndrome, and disorders caused by blood impurities.

Not to be confused with –
Menispermum canadense – Common Names: Moonseed, Canada Moonseed, Texas Sasparilla, Yellow Sasparilla

Description: Woody twining vine grows to 12 feet. Large broad leaves are 8 inches long and slightly lobed. Grape-like fruit in clusters and is bluish black with a crescent-shaped pit. May be confused with wild grape.

Toxic Part: Fruit.

Symptoms: Convulsions.

Now then… my favorite application of the good kind… Though I’ve never brewed my own.


These recipes are from a very brittle New England Housekeeper Cookbook, published 1894. It would require great dedication to embark (pun intended) on making either of them. In any case, they’re fun to read.


1 small handful bloodroot
1 small handful prickly ash bark
8 large handfuls spikenard root
8 large handfuls sasparilla
1 handful hops
2 handfuls cherry bark
2 handfuls popple bark
4 handfuls burdock root
4 handfuls dandelion root
1 cup yeast
Sugar to taste

Wash roots and barks thoroughly, and cover with water in a large kettle. Boil slowly until their strength is extracted. Strain, dilute and sweeten to taste; when cool add yeast and let stand 24 hours. Bottle or cork tightly in large stone jugs. If spruce twigs or wintergreen can be obtained, use them also, for they will improve the beer.

OLD-TIME ROOT BEER (“old-time” by 1894 standards!)

1 part black birch bark
1 part wintergreen, leaves and stems
1/2 the quantity of spruce twigs
1/4 the quantity of Prince’s pine
1 small root fennel
6 gallons water

Pour the cold water over the herbs and roots, bring to the boiling point, and boil till the strength is extracted. Strain, and if there is too strong a flavor, dilute with water. Add 1 pound of sugar to every gallon of the mixture, and 1 cup of yeast, while lukewarm. It should stand 24 hours and be stirred frequently. At the end of this time, bottle or pour into a small keg. This makes a refreshing and wholesome summer drink.

Newton the insane was rowdily running around, leaping from the laundry bin and out like an obstacle course. I went to take a piccie of him, and he made a dash for the bookcase… I caught him hanging out on the middle shelf, ducked down in pounce mode, then stretched up, and took great interest in the copy of Nightmare of Ecstasy… quite a fun read., and a real glimpse at the man.

Newt on the bookcase... behind the Ian Fleming, timothy Leary, Phil Farmer, Abbie Hoffman, and others...

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