February 27, 2020

Beware the Bristles

Aralia hispida - Bristly sarsaparilla

Aralia hispida – Bristly sarsaparilla | Photo courtesy of Glen Mittelhauser/Maine Natural History Observatory

Garden Note: We’re ringing in summer all this week with a tribute to wild Maine, the best vacationland to roam. Enter our drawing to win a copy of “The Plants of Acadia National Park,” with a shot of some of the excellent descriptions pictured below. Sign up now because the deadline to enter is when summer arrives a little after 7 tonight, Wednesday, June 20.

A native of North America, Aralia hispida can be found in dry, open woods, according to “The Plants of Acadia National Park.” A member of the carrot family, bristly sarsaparilla grows up to 3 feet tall and flowers in umbrels on long stalks. The resulting berries are a dark purple. The bark and root of this perennial herb have been used medicinally as a relaxant and stimulant, as well as for kidney disorders. According to Go Botany, “The Algonquin and Potawatomi used the roots to treat heart disease and as a tonic.” The common name also is a word of warning about the plant: The woody stems are covered with sharp bristles at the base.

Wild Wednesday is a collaboration of Garden Maine and Glen Mittelhauser of the nonprofit Maine Natural History Observatory, www.mainenaturalhistory.org.

Bristly sarsaparilla can be found in "The Plants of Acadia National Park"

Bristly sarsaparilla can be found in “The Plants of Acadia National Park”

Today marks the start of summer 2012 and we’re having a wild contest. You could win the book pictured above. Click here for details on entering.