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Before consuming wild plants, contact your doctor to make sure it is safe, and make positive identification in the field using a good source such as Medicinal Plants of the Mountain West.  MIchael Moore’s books also contain a glossary of medical terms. ) 
 
 
# 25
 
Common Name: Sarsparella
Latin Name: Aralia nudicaulis, A. spinosa, A. racemosa, A. hispida, A. quinquefolia/Panax quinquefolius
Family: Araliaceae (Ginseng)
Range: http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=ARNU2 southwest left out, but north central, Upper Plains, New England, and much of the South
http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=ARSP2 most states East of the Mississippi + Missouri, Arkansas, Texas Louisiana, Oklahoma
http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=ARRA  Four Corner’s area, Texas, Upper Plains, everything east of the Mississippi but not in Florida. http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=ARRA
http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=ARHI2 Eastern Canada – Minnesota, Illinois, east to New England, Virginia, S. Carolina
http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=PAQU East of Mississippi (excluding Florida), South Dakota to Oklahoma and east.
 
 
 
 
 
Common Name: Wild Sarsaparilla (Aralia nudicaulis)
Appearance and Habitat: A single leaf stalk grows 18-24, dividing into three parts each with five oval leaflets. A separate stalk, shorter than the leaf stalk, bears ball-shaped clusters of tiny, greenish-white flowers followed in fall by dark purple berries. The leafless flower stem, topped with clusters of greenish-white flowers, is beneath a large, umbrella-like leaf. Often grows in colonies from extensive rootstock. The species name, from the Latin nudus (naked) and cauli (stalk), refers to the leafless flowerstalk.  Bloom colors White, Green, Brown, blooming May through June.  May grow in poor  and relatively dry soils.  It grows in either Sun or shade. (1) N. America – Newfoundland to Manitoba, south to N. Carolina and Missouri.  It is a perennial  growing to 0.4 m (1ft 4in) by 0.3 m (1ft).  It is hardy to zone 4 and is not frost tender. It is in flower in June, and the seeds ripen from Aug to September.  Shady Edge, not Deep Shade. (2)
 
Edible Uses: The rhizome is aromatic and was used as emergency food by First Nations People (Clough). The root was used to make root beer and can be made into a tea. (3) The rootstock is used as a flavouring, it is a substitute for sarsaparilla and is also used for making ‘root beer’. It is also used as an emergency food (usually mixed with oil), having a sweet spicy taste and a pleasant aromatic smell. A nutritious food, it was used by the Indians during wars or when they were hunting since it is very sustaining. Young shoots – cooked as a potherb. A refreshing herbal tea is made from the root. Pleasantly flavoured. The roots are boiled in water until the water is reddish-brown. A jelly is made from the fruit. The fruit is also used to make wine. The fruit is about 6mm in diameter (4)
Medicinal Uses: Wild sarsaparilla is a sweet pungent tonic herb that acts as an alterative. It had a wide range of traditional uses amongst the North American Indians and was at one time widely used as a substitute for the tropical medicinal herb sarsaparilla. The root is alterative, diaphoretic, diuretic, pectoral and stimulant. The herb encourages sweating, is stimulating and detoxifying and so is used internally in the treatment of pulmonary diseases, asthma, rheumatism, stomach aches etc. Externally it is used as a poultice in treating rheumatism, sores, burns, itchy skin, ulcers and skin problems such as eczema. The root is collected in late summer and the autumn and dried for later use. A drink made from the pulverised roots is used as a cough treatment. A poultice made from the roots and/or the fruit is applied to sores, burns, itchy skin, ulcers, swellings etc. A homeopathic remedy made from the roots is important in the treatment of cystitis. (5)
 
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 Common Name: Devil’s Walkingstick, Prickly Ash, Hercules Club (Aralia spinosa)
Appearance and Habitat: A large, few-stemmed shrub,12-15 ft., can reach 20 ft. Each spring it shoots up a tall stem covered with orange prickles. Enormous, divided, spiny leaves at the top of the stem can be 3-4 ft. long and just as wide. Topping the umbrella of leaves are 1-4 ft. tall clusters of whitish flowers. Black fruits on bright pink fruiting stalks crown the plant in fall. Bloom time June, July, and August. Found in open woods; thickets; flood plains; rocky pastures.  Colonizes freely by rhizomes and suckers. These can be dug out, but A. spinosa is still far too aggressive for small spaces. A pioneering species in the wild, this plant often disappears as the forest develops around it. (1) Bluffs, rich woods and river banks in deep moist soils in South eastern N. America – New York to Florida, east to Texas.  A deciduous tree growing to  9 m (29ft 6in) at a slow rate.  It is hardy to zone 5 and is not frost tender. It is in flower from Aug to September, and the seeds ripen from Oct to November.(2)  (they disagree on Bloom Time)
Warnings: Handling the roots can cause dermatitis in some people.  Large amounts of the berries are poisonous. (3)
Edible Uses: Young leaves – cooked. The leaves usually have a number of slender prickles, they must be gathered before the prickles harden and are then chopped finely and used as a potherb (4)
Medicinal Uses: The aromatic spicy roots and fruit were used by early settlers in home remedies, including a cure for toothaches. (5) Analgesic. The bark, especially of the roots is the part most commonly used medicinally, though other parts of the plant, including the fruit, also possess medicinal properties. The fresh bark is strongly emetic, ophthalmic, purgative and sialagogue, when dried it is a stimulating alterative and is diaphoretic. A tincture of the berries is used in the treatment of toothache and rheumatism. A poultice of the roots is applied to boils, skin eruptions, varicose veins, old sores and swellings. A cold infusion of the roots is used as drops for sore eyes. (6)
Foot Notes: (2, 3, 4, 6)
 
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Common Name: American spikenard, Spignet, Elk Clover (Aralia racemosa)
Appearance and Habitat: The large, tapered flower clusters of this 2-5 ft. perennial are made up of many tiny white flowers, each with a tinge of yellow or green. They grow upright above large compound foliage on heavy, leafy stems. Purple-red berries are showy in fall. Spikenard lacks spines and has numerous flower umbels in large clusters. The leaves are ovate the fruit color is purple and it blooms in June and July.  It needs sun and a moist soil. (1)  Rich woodlands and thickets in Eastern N. America – Quebec to Georgia, west to Kansas and Minnesota.  It is a perennial  growing to 1.8 m (6ft) by 1.2 m (4ft in).  It is hardy to zone 4 and is not frost tender. It is in flower in June.  Woodland sunny edge, dappled shade, not deep shade. (2) These are large robust plants, often 6-8 feet tall with large compound, usually pinnate leaves with serrated little teeth all along the leaflets.  The greenish white flowers form umbels like plants in the Parsley family.  The berries are purple and sweet spicy like those of its close relative, Ginseng.  The root is cream colored but brown skinned and fleshy with oil oozing from cuts.  The roots may be six feet in length.  The stems are solid.  In Arizona and New Mexico, Spikenard grows up in the wettest, coolest, and shadiest canyons of the desert mountains.  It is found usually from 4,500 feet to 7,500 feet.  (3)
Edible Uses: Young shoot tips – cooked. Used as a potherb or as a flavouring in soups. Root – cooked. Large and spicy, it is used in soups. Pleasantly aromatic, imparting a liquorice-like flavour. A substitute for sarsaparilla (Smilax spp.), it is also used in making ‘root beer’. Fruit – raw or cooked.  Pleasant and wholesome to eat. They can be made into a jelly. The fruit is about 4mm in diameter (4)
Medicinal Uses: American spikenard is a sweet pungent tonic herb that is often used in modern herbalism where it acts as an alterative. It had a wide range of traditional uses amongst the North American Indians and was at one time widely used as a substitute for the tropical medicinal herb sarsaparilla. The root is alterative, diaphoretic, diuretic, pectoral and stimulant. The herb encourages sweating, is stimulating and detoxifying and so is used internally in the treatment of pulmonary diseases, asthma, rheumatism etc. Externally it is used as a poultice in treating rheumatism and skin problems such as eczema. The root is collected in late summer and the autumn and dried for later use. A drink made from the pulverised roots is used as a cough treatment. A poultice made from the roots and/or the fruit is applied to sores, burns, itchy skin, ulcers, swellings etc (5)  Spikenard as shown an ability to stimulate phogocytosis in white blood cells, increasing interferon synthesis in infected cells.  This function of Spikenard is sometimes adaptogenic, increasing mobilization but decreasing the metabolic costs of stress responses.  This may mean that moderate amounts of tincture or tea on a regular basis can strength someone with metabolic or chronic disease.  Spikenard is a first-class medicine for the initial states of bronchitis and pneumonia, all the stuff we usually call a chest cold.  Collect the root from mid summer to winter.  Large root sections need to be split and dried in a cheese cloth fold, and hung in the shade to dry.  The root will stay active for a year.  When making tea only use small pieces of dried root so as not to waste and expose more to the air than is necessary.  Use 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoons in 2- 4 ounces of hot water for the tea.  You can also make a tincture, one part dried root to 5 parts 60% alcohol.  You can also use it with honey, 1 part fresh root to 5 parts honey, simmer slowly in the honey for about an hour, strain, and bottle.  Use 1 – 2 teaspoons of the honey mix when needed.  It is also of great benefit to smokers or ex smokers with morning cough.  The more the sense of chest and lung tiredness, the better Spikenard works. (6) 
 
Foot Notes: (1)http://www.wildflower.org/plants/result.php?id_plant=ARRA
Foot Notes: (2, 4, 5)
Foot Notes: (3, 6) Medicinial Plants of the Desert and Canyon West by Michael Moore, pages 114-116, Publisher Museum of New Mexico Press, copyright 1989, ISBN 0-80913-182-1
 
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Common Name: Bristly Sarsaparilla (Aralia hispida)
Appearance and Habitat: Rocky or sandy sterile soils. Eastern and Central N. America-E. Canada to Virginia west to Illinois and Minnesota.  It is  a deciduous Shrub growing to 1 m (3ft 3in).  It is hardy to zone 3 and is not frost tender. It is in flower from May to June.
Edible Uses: A tea is made from the roots. The roots are also used for making ‘root beer’
Medicinal Uses: A tea made from the leaves is diaphoretic. The root is alterative and tonic. An infusion of the root has been used in the treatment of heart diseases. The bark, and especially the root bark, is diuretic and tonic. A homeopathic remedy is made from the fresh root. It has alterative, diaphoretic and diuretic properties and is considered to be a good treatment for dropsy
 
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 Common Name: American Ginseng (Panax quinquefolius – Aralia quinquefolia)
Appearance and Habitat: An umbel of small, greenish-white or yellow-green, fragrant flowers rising from a whorl of 3 large, palmately compound leaves. The flowers of this species smell like those of Lily-of-the-valley. It is classified as a threatened species in 31 eastern states. (1) Rich cool woods in Eastern N. America – Maine to Georgia, west to Oklahoma and Minnesota.  A perennial  growing to 0.3 m (1ft) by 0.5 m (1ft 8in) at a slow rate.  It is hardy to zone 3. It is in flower in June.  Dappled Shade, shady edge, not deep shade. (2)
Edible Uses: A tea is made from the leaves and the roots. The aromatic root is candied and used as a masticatory. (3)
Medicinal Uses: This N. American species of ginseng is said to have similar properties to the Oriental ginseng, P. ginseng, though it is said to have a milder action and is more likely to be prescribed for younger patients. It is cultivated in some areas of America as a medicinal crop and is also often harvested from the wild.The root is said to be adaptogen, cardiotonic, demulcent, panacea, sedative, sialagogue, stimulant and stomachic. It is used in the treatment of chronic cough, low-grade fever, spontaneous or night sweating and fatigue due to chronic consumptive disease. When taken over an extended period it is said to increase mental efficiency and physical performance whilst helping the body adapt to high or low temperatures and stress. Some caution is advised, though, because large doses are said to raise blood pressure. The root is harvested in the autumn and dried for later use. The following notes are the list of uses for P. ginseng. Ginseng has a history of herbal use going back over 5,000 years. It is one of the most highly regarded of herbal medicines in the Orient, where it has gained an almost magical reputation for being able to promote health, general body vigour and also to prolong life. The root is adaptogen, alterative, carminative, demulcent, emetic, expectorant, stimulant and tonic. It both stimulates and relaxes the nervous system, encourages the secretion of hormones, improves stamina, lowers blood sugar and cholesterol levels and increases resistance to disease. It is used internally in the treatment of debility associated with old age or illness, lack of appetite, insomnia, stress, shock and chronic illness. Ginseng is not normally prescribed for pregnant women, or for patients under the age of 40, or those with depression, acute anxiety or acute inflammatory disease. It is normally only taken for a period of 3 weeks. Excess can cause headaches, restlessness, raised blood pressure and other side effects, especially if it is taken with caffeine, alcohol, turnips and bitter or spicy foods. The roots are harvested in the autumn, preferably from plants 6 – 7 years old, and can be used fresh or dried. A dose of 10ug/ml of ginseng saponins has been shown to be significantly radio-protective when it is administered prior to gamma-irradiation. The leaf is emetic and expectorant. (4)
(This plant was over harvested in the 1700 – 1800’s, so it is rare.  When you find it, leave some of the root to continue.  Over harvesting and selling started a ‘trade war’ with Korea that became a shooting war.   http://english.ohmynews.com/articleview/article_view.asp?no=237691&rel_no=1   As I adviced a reader, do a search for the roots, as seed is very slow. )
 
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# 24
 Common Name : Soapberry, Palo Blanco, Jaboncillo, Wild Chinaberry
Latin Name: Sapindus saponaria, S. drummondii
Family: Sapindaceae
http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=SASA4  Arizona to Florida north to Colorado and Missouri + S. Carolina and Hawaii  
http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=SASAD same as above but stops at the Mississippi
 
 
Common Name: Wingleaf Soapberry, Soapberry, Wild China tree (Sapindus saponaria)
Appearance and Habitat: The poisonous fruit, containing the alkaloid saponin, has been used as a soap substitute for washing clothes. Necklaces and buttons are made from the round dark brown seeds, and baskets are made from the wood, which splits easily. The common name, Wild China Tree, comes from the resemblance of its fruit clusters to the Chinaberry Tree.  Southern United States from Arizona west to Kansas, Texas, and Florida; to 6,000 (1,829 m). Moist soils along streams and on limestone uplands, in and bordering hardwood forests; westward in plains and mountains, grassland, upper desert, and oak woodland zones.  A perennial. (1)  Hammacks near the coast. South-western N. America Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina. A  deciduous Tree growing to 15 m (49ft 3in) at a slow rate.  It is hardy to zone 8 and is frost tender. It is in leaf 10-Apr It is in flower from May to June, and the seeds ripen in November. (2)
 
Warnings: The seed is poisonous.  The fruit is poisonous. (3)
Edible Uses: The fruit is eaten by native North American Indians, though most white people find it repulsive. (4)
Other Uses: A soap is obtained from the fruit by rubbing the fruit in water. Used in Mexico for washing clothes. The fruit can be dried and stored for later use. Wood – heavy, strong, close-grained, splits easily. It splits easily into thin strips and is often used in basket making. (5)
Foot Notes: (2, 3, 4, 5)
 
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Common Name: Western Soapberry (Sapindus saponaria var. drummondii )
Appearance and Habitat: Soapberry is a single-stemmed, low-branched, round-crowned tree, growing 10-50 ft. tall, depending on habitat. Gray, sculpted bark is distinctive in the dormant season. Leaves up to 18 inches long with a central axis and as many as 24 paired leaflets, usually fewer, and often no terminal leaflet. Leaflets unsymmetric with the broader part of the blade toward the leaf tip and the base rounded on the broader side and tapering on the narrower side. Leaflet tip elongate. Flowers in large, cream colored clusters up to 10 inches long and 6 inches wide, appearing in May and early June. Fruit fleshy, globose, about 1/2 inch wide, flesh translucent, yellow turning darker with age, sometimes persistent on the tree until the next flowering season. (1) Limestone bluffs, slopes and by streams, in moist clay or dry limestone.  Mexican valleys form the upper desert to the woodland zones.  South-western N. America Kansas to Northern Mexico.  A deciduous Tree growing to 12 m (39ft 4in) at a slow rate.  It is hardy to zone 8. It is in leaf 10-Apr It is in flower from May to June, and the seeds ripen in November. (2) This is a small tree or bush, between 6 and 15 feet tall at maturity.  The leaves are large and pinnate, each with 9 – 19 leaflets, smooth edged, and 2 to 3 inches long.  Twigs are yellowish-green to tan and hairy.  The bark on the trunks, usually more than one trunk, is smooth though scaly in appearance.  In the late spring they have many tiny flowers that are fragrant and form terminal clusters.  The fruit matures into an amber to yellow fruit that is about a 1/2 inch in diameter.  The sticky fruit usually remains  on the tree until the following spring.  It is found from Cottonwood in Arizona and all along the Verde, Salt River,  Gila Rivers and eastwards to southern Missouri  and western Arkansas, from 2,500 feet to 6,000 feet.  The tree likes hills, valleys, grasslands, oak woodlands, and even mountain sides.  (3)
Warnings: (Same as above) (4)
Edible Uses: Fruit. No more details from this report but another report says that it is poisonous. The berry-like fruits have a leathery coat that contains poisonous saponins. The fruit is about 15mm in diameter and often hangs on the tree until the following spring.(5)
Medicinal Uses: The fruit is antirheumatic and febrifuge. It is used in the treatment of kidney diseases. A poultice of the sap has been used to treat wounds(6) Collect the stems and leaves drying them in a paper sack. Chop the dried stems and leaves and use as a standard infusion (mix 1 part plant to 32 parts water, bring to a boil, bring the water level back to 32 parts, let cool for 24 hours, then strain)  The tea from the herb can be used as an anti-inflammatory and analgesic and can be taken 2 – 4 ounces up to 3 times a day.  It is one of the better arthritis remedies, though not suited to constant use.  Use it for acute episodes and rotate with Yucca or Agave. (7)  
Other Uses: A soap is obtained from the fruit by rubbing the fruit in water. Used in Mexico for washing clothes. The fruit can be dried and stored for later use. Buttons and necklaces are made from the seed. Wood – heavy, strong and close-grained. It weighs 51lb per cubic foot. It splits easily into thin strips and is often used in basket making, it is also used as a fuel ( 8 )  The berries should be picked when ripe, usually in August and September.  For soap, simply crush the fruit and lather away or preserve them using a blender, strain out the particles then mixing them 2 parts juice to 1 part alcohol.   The fresh berries can also be refrigerated a month or more. (9)
Foot Notes: (3, 7, 9) Medicinial Plants of the Desert and Canyon West by Michael Moore, pages 113-114, Publisher Museum of New Mexico Press, copyright 1989, ISBN 0-80913-182-1
 
(Final Note on Soapberry: With such a strong concentration of saponins, the fruit should work well to float fish [fishing without hooks]. )
 
Reproduced, in part, (as well as previous postings under this title) in accordance with Section 107 of title 17 of the Copyright Law of the United States relating to fair-use and is for the purposes of criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research.
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