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Sarsaparilla roots are used as an aromatic herb.

They come from a perennial, trailing, climbing vine with prickly stems and deep roots which are tubers. The plant is a member of the greenbrier family.

Three varieties are used: Smilax officinalis, Smilax aristolochiaefolia and Smilax ornata.

The early shoots in the spring can be eaten like asparagus.

Sarsaparilla the drink is made from the roots. It is a brown, non-alcoholic drink that sometimes has a medicinal flavour.

In the UK, you can buy Sarsaparilla as a cordial from Mawson's since 1998 (the product was retired by they revived it.)


Sarsaparilla was used as a spring time tonic.

History Notes

Sarsaparilla was introduced into Europe in the 1500s.

Language Notes

The word "Sarsaparilla" comes from Spanish "zarza" ("shrub") and "parilla" ("little vine".)

Usually pronounced "Sass pah rilla."


Angelica; Angostura Bark; Bay Leaf; Borage; Chamomile; Chervil; Chives; Comfrey; Curry Leaves; Dill; Dried Herbs; Epazote; Filé; Folium Indicum; Garlic Greens; Green Garlic; Gruit; Herbes Salées; Herbs; Hops; Jacob's Ladder; Lady's Bedstraw; Lavender; Loroco; Lovage; Marjoram; Mexican Tarragon; Mint; Mugwort Powder; Oregano; Pennywort; Potherbs; Rolling Mincer; Rosemary; Rue; Sachet Bags; Sage; Salad Burnet; Sarsaparilla; Sassafrass; Savoury; Screw Pine Leaves; Shiso Leaves; Silphium; Sorrel; Stevia; Sweet Cicely; Tarragon; Thyme; Trefoil; Valerian; Wild Garlic; Winter Purslane; Wormwood; Yarrow; Yomogi

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Also called:

Smilax ornata (Scientific Name); Salsepareille (French)


Oulton, Randal. "Sarsaparilla." CooksInfo.com. Published 19 June 2005; revised 12 September 2007. Web. Accessed 03/20/2018. <http://www.cooksinfo.com/sarsaparilla>.

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