a: any of various tropical American plants of the genus Smilaxb: any of various plants (as wild sarsaparilla, Aralia nudicaulis) that resemble or are used as a substitute for the sarsaparillas
a: the dried roots of any of several sarsaparillas of the genus Smilax (especially S. aristolochiaefolia, S. febrifuga, and S. regelii) used now especially as a flavoring and formerly for the diaphoretic, expectorant, and laxative effects of the saponins found in them and without curative effect in the treatment of syphilis b: the roots of wild sarsaparilla (Aralia nudicaulis) used similarly
Aromatic flavouring agent originally made from the dried roots of several tropical smilax vines. Native to the southern and western coasts of Mexico to Peru, the plants are large, perennial, climbing or trailing vines with short, thick, underground stems that produce many prickly, angular, aboveground stems supported by tendrils. Once a popular tonic, sarsaparilla now is blended with wintergreen and other flavours and used in root beer and other carbonated beverages, or to flavour and mask the taste of medicines. In North America, the strongly aromatic roots of the wild sarsaparilla (Aralia nudicaulis) and false, or bristly, sarsaparilla (A. hispida), of the ginseng family, are sometimes substituted for true sarsaparilla.