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, collected in the Autumn, was used by North American Indians both for medicine and as food. Wine was made from the berries by European settlers and a form of root beer was made from the rhizome. In the 1800's, sarsaparilla was popular as a spring tonic.


note the three flower heads below the leaves