Native to Central and South America, Smilax ornata is a perennial vine with sharp thorns and heart-shaped leaves. Once a primary ingredient in root beer, sarsaparilla root is still enjoyed in beverages today. Sarsaparilla was often employed for its beneficial properties by indigenous peoples of the area. Our Jamaican sarsaparilla root can be infused, made into syrup, or employed as a tincture.
This particular species is a woody, perennial climbing vine native to South America, Central America, and the Caribbean. When the Spanish conquistadores arrived, they found that indigenous tribes used beverages made with sarsaparilla as a general health tonic. The name itself is from the Spanish sarza, meaning brambles, and parilla, meaning vine. This perennial climbing vine features erect, semiwoody stems with sharp thorns up to 1/2 inch long. The leaves are large, heartshaped, and almost evergreen with prominent veins. Smilax ornata is a member of the Smilacaceae plant family and also goes by the name brown sarsapari