Scientific Classification:

Kingdom Plantae
Unranked Angiosperms
Unranked Angiosperms
Order Liliales
Family Smilacaceae
Genus Smilax
Species S.sarsapailla
Binomial name Smilax sarsaparilla

Other Common Names:

The other common names for the sarasaparilla are Liliaceae, Red-bearded and Bamboo Brier.



Smilax has been recognized as a general medicine in traditional cultures in Mexico and south-America, as well as in China and India.
Throughout history it has been uses for a variety of purposes.
The root is said to improve physical performance.
The name sarsaparilla or zarzaparilla comes from the Spanish word zarza (bramble or bush), parra (vine), and illa (small)


Sarsaparilla plant has an angular, twining, and somewhat prickly stem, the young shoots being smooth. Leaves ovate-oblong, acute, smooth, tough, five to seven-nerved, a foot long, on short petioles, with stipules in the form of tendrils. The roots are slender, very long, several from the same collum, reddish-brown, and tough. They come to market folded in lengths of two and a half feet, in small bundles. Some specimens are a dirty ash-gray, and others rather reddish.


The average size is that of a large goose-quill. It has but little odour, but emits a decided and pleasant smell on being boiled; and its taste is at first mucilaginous and slightly bitter, but afterwards moderately yet persistently biting and warming to the fauces.This plant produces a vine that both trails on the ground and climbs hospitable trees by means of tiny tendrils that emerge from its evergreen leaves. The root flavours the soft drink of the same name and is the part of the plant used for medicinal purposes.


The species can be found in tropical rainforests and temperate regions in the Americas, Asia, India, and Australia. Sarsaparilla became known in Europe through the Spanish in Mexico and south-America.


Sarsaparilla is generally seen in hedge, woodland, sunny edge and dappled shade. It thrives best in light sandy, medium loamy and heavy clay soils. It requires moist soil.


Seeds are sown in March in a warm greenhouse. This note probably refers to the tropical members of the genus; seeds of plants from cooler areas seem to require a period of cold stratification, some species taking 2 or more years to germinate. We sow the seed of temperate species in a cold frame as soon as we receive it, a d would sow the seed as soon as it is ripe if we could obtain it then. When the e seedlings eventually germinate, prick them out into individual pots when they a re large enough to handle and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first year, though we normally grow them on in pots for 2 years. Plant them out in to their permanent positions in early summer. Division in early spring as new growth begins. Larger divisions can be planted out direct into their permanent positions. We have found it best to pot up the smaller divisions and grow them on in a lightly shaded position in a cold frame, planting them out once they are well established in the summer. Cuttings of half-ripe shoots in July in a single frame.

Parts Used


The root and the rhizome are the most commonly used parts of the sarsaparilla for its commercial and medicinal applications.

Flowering Season

The flowers of the sarsaparilla are yellowish-white which are in bloom from May to August.

Pests and Diseases

Some root diseases affect root shape and quality. The serious diseases rot the root and completely destroy it. These diseases are caused by fungi that are found in soils. There are several foliar blights and seed blasting diseases that exert continual pressure. The fungi that cause these diseases are constantly present in air currents. Slugs can be a problem in the spring. The straw mulch creates an environment favoured by slugs and they will feed on both shoots and any roots that are close to the soil surface, sometimes causing significant losses. Slug damage occurs most frequently near the garden borders.

Medicinal Applications

• Passion flower was used to treat nervous restlessness and gastrointestinal spasms.


• The root has been used for centuries for sexual impotence, rheumatism, skin ailments, and as a general tonic for physical weakness.

• It is also used for headaches and joint pain, and against the common cold.

 • It is frequently used in the treatment of all infectious diseases where the blood shows some abnormal quality.

• The root of sarsaparilla was used internally and externally for leprosy and other skin problems such as psoriasis and dermatitis.

• Sarsaparilla has been used as a blood purifier and general tonic and also has been used worldwide for gout, syphilis, gonorrhea, wounds, venereal disease, fever, cough, scrofula, hypertension, digestive disorders, psoriasis, skin diseases, and cancer.

• Chinese research indicates that the root has a potential in treating leptospirosis, a rare disease transmitted to humans by rats.

• This herb helps fights herpes, reduces stress on the liver, is an effective fever reducer, and has mild antibiotic properties.

• It should be considered and is especially useful for rheumatoid arthritis.

• Its testosterogenic effect leads to increased muscle bulk and has a potential for treating impotence.

• Its progesterogenic action makes it beneficial in premenstrual problems, debility, and depression associated with menopause.

Commercial Applications


•  Sarsaparilla has been used as an ingredient in root beer and other beverages for its foaming properties.

• The root is brewed and used as a substitute for tea.

• Sarsaparilla is used to make a gourmet version of home-made root beer syrup.

• It is used as a flavouring agent for many soft drinks.


According to the astro reports the sarsaparilla is governed by the planet Mars.

Folklores and Myths

Sarsaparilla root is best known as flavouring for beverages, and in keeping with the benefits of such herbal drinks, is said to grant health and happiness and to prolong life. Sarsaparilla burned with cinnamon chips and sandalwood draws money; burned with frankincense and myrrh, it blesses a house. Combine these 5 ingredients for money house blessing. Blend sarsaparilla, damiana, juniper berries, and other love herbs to arouse sexual passion towards us. It is believed that for a steady-money hand, combine sarsaparilla, smart weed, fenugreek seeds, Irish moss, and sassafras, plus one coin each of 5 different denominations and carries these in a green bag anointed weekly with Special Oil Number 20.