Kentucky Nature Preserves Rare Plants

Kentucky State Nature Preserves Commission

Wild Sarsaparilla
Aralia nudicaulis
Family: Araliaceae

Protection Status:
State Status:  E
USFWS Status: {null}

Global Rank: G5
State Rank: S3?

Mesic forests.

Species Description:
Perennial herb.

Flowering Period: Early May to late July.

Additional Information at NatureServe

Diagnostic Characteristics:
Stemless perennial herb, rhizomatous, scapose (the flowering stem and leaves arising from the rhizome). The petiole erect to 5 dm and the leaves are ternate (divided into three), each division pinnately 3-5 foliate. Leaflets are lance-elliptic generally, finely serrate and about 15 cm long. The lateral leaflets are assymetric at the base. Fruit is black.

Disturbance such as ATV trails, timber removal or any activity that results in increased erosion and weed invasion will be detrimental. Some pressure from the medicinal plant trade exists.

Global Range:
Throughout much of Canada, and in the U.S. from Maine south to the mountains of northern Georgia, and northwestwards to Washington (USDA-NRCS 1999). Ten extant locations are known from Missouri (Missouri Department of Conservation). It is reported from four counties in Kentucky (Kentucky Natural Heritage Program). It is found in all counties in Maine (Maine Natural Areas Program). In Indiana this species is found throughout the northern part of the state and in one location in the southeast (Indiana Natural Heritage Data Center). It is disjunct in Colorado and Nebraska, where it survives in limited mesic habitats as a Pleistocene relict (Weber and Wittmann 1996, Nebraska Natural Heritage Program). In Manitoba, it occurs northwards to near latitude 57 degrees 30 minutes (Manitoba Conservation Data Centre). A. nudicaulis is apparently restricted to North America.

Known Kentucky Occurrences:

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Data last updated: Wednesday, May 28, 2014
Kentucky State Nature Preserves Commission
801 Teton Trail
Frankfort,KY 40601
Phone: (502) 573-2886
Fax: (502) 573-2355
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