Smilax Officinalis (Sarsaparilla)

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Smilax Officinalis (sarsaparilla)The stem of this plant is twining, angular, and prickly, the young shoots being unarmed.  The leaves are ovate-oblong, acute, cordate, smooth, and about a foot long.  The petioles are an inch long, bearing tendrils above the base.  Botanically, nothing is known of the flowers.  This plant grows in New Granada, on the banks of the Magdaline, near Bajorque.  Great quantities are sent to Mompox and Carthagena, and from thence to Jamaica and Cadiz.
The Smilax Syphilitica, S. Papyracea, S. Medica, S. China, and S. Sarsaparilla are all members of the same family of plants; their medicinal qualities are similar, and they form the Sarsaparilla of commerce, with the exception of the S. Sarsaparilla, which is native to the United States, flowering from May to August.  The American plant is regarded by some as inert, but why so I do not know.  The plant extensively known in the South as Bamboo Brier, which is but a species of Sarsaparilla, certainly possesses medicinal qualities equal, if not superior, to commercial Sarsaparilla.  Professionally, I employ the Honduras Sarsaparilla, which I regard as the best.


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