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Montana Field Guide

Montana Field Guides

Wild Sarsaparilla - Aralia nudicaulis

Native Species

Global Rank: G5
State Rank: S4
C-value: 5

Agency Status


External Links

General Description
Rhizomatous perennial, appearing acaulescent. Stems erect, short, barely above ground level. Herbage glabrous to puberulent. Leaves solitary; petiole 15–25 cm long; blade 15–25 cm long, twice divided, first into 3 then 3 to 5 parts; leaflets obovate to lanceolate or ovate, acuminate, 3–15 cm long, serrate, sometimes with asymmetrical bases. Inflorescence of usually 3 umbels; rays 2–7 cm long; the peduncle shorter than the leaf. Flowers greenish-white; sepals obsolete; petals 1–2 mm long, reflexed; stamens longer than petals. Drupes becoming dark purple, 4–8 mm wide (Lesica et al. 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. BRIT Press. Fort Worth, TX).

Species Range
Montana Range Range Descriptions


Range Comments
BC to NL south to WA, CO, MO and GA (Lesica et al. 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. BRIT Press. Fort Worth, TX).


The following animal species have been reported as pollinators of this plant species or its genus where their geographic ranges overlap: Bombus vagans, Bombus ternarius, and Bombus bohemicus (Colla and Dumesh 2010).

  • Literature Cited AboveLegend:   View Online Publication
    • Colla, S.R. and S. Dumesh. 2010. The bumble bees of southern Ontario: notes on natural history and distribution. Journal of the Entomological Society of Ontario 141:39-68.
    • Lesica, P., M.T. Lavin, and P.F. Stickney. 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. Fort Worth, TX: BRIT Press. viii + 771 p.
  • Additional ReferencesLegend:   View Online Publication
    Do you know of a citation we're missing?
    • Fernald, M.L. and A.C. Kinsey. 1958. Edible wild plants of eastern North America. Harper and Row. NY. NY.
    • Fogelsong, M.L. 1974. Effects of fluorides on Peromyscus maniculatus in Glacier National Park. M.Sc. Thesis. Bozeman, Montana: Montana State University. 52 p.
    • Lesica, P., M.T. Lavin, and P.F. Stickney. 2022. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants, Second Edition. Fort Worth, TX: BRIT Press. viii + 779 p.
    • McGregor, R.L. (coordinator), T.M. Barkley, R.E. Brooks, and E.K. Schofield (eds). 1986. Flora of the Great Plains: Great Plains Flora Association. Lawrence, KS: Univ. Press Kansas. 1392 pp.
    • Morgan, J.T. 1993. Summer habitat use of white-tailed deer on the Tally Lake ranger district, Flathead National Forest. Ph.D. Dissertation. Montana State University, Bozeman. pp. 103.
    • Niering, W. A. 1979. The Audubon Society field guide to North American wildflowers: Eastern region. Alfred A. Knopf, New York. 887 pp.
    • Swink, F., and G. Wilhelm. 1994. Plants of the Chicago Region. Morton Arboretum. Lisle, Illinois.
    • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service. 1999. November 3-last update. The PLANTS Database.
    • Weber, William A. and Ronald C. Wittmann. 1996. Colorado Flora: Eastern Slope.
    • Weiner, M.A. 1980. Earth Medicine Earth Food. Ballantine Books, New York. 230 pp.
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Citation for data on this website:
Wild Sarsaparilla — Aralia nudicaulis.  Montana Field Guide.  .  Retrieved on , from