The world checklist of plants gives the correct name for this species as Smilax purhampuy Ruiz. However, other authorities are still using S. Febrifuga, a name we will stick with for the meantime[
Common Name: Ecuadorian Sarsaparilla
Smilax febrifuga is a perennial climbing plant, producing prickly stems up to 15 metres long from the rhizomatous rootstock[
This is one of the main species that supply commercial sarsaparilla - the rhizomes being used medicinally and as a flavouring in foods. The rhizomes are also used locally and are sold in local markets for medicinal use[
S. America - Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Guyana.
Succeeds in sun or partial shade[
]. Tolerant of a range of soil types[
Root extracts are used to flavour soft drinks ice cream, confectionery and bakery products[
Ecuadorian sarsaparilla (the roots and rhizome) is a sweet, acrid, alterative herb that reduces inflammation, controls itching, improves digestion and elimination and is antiseptic[
This is one of three species (the others are S. Aristolochiifolia and S. regelii) that gained a high reputation in the 17th century as cure-alls[
]. They were widely imported into Europe until early in the 20th century, by which time their rather overrated reputation had waned somewhat. However, the plants do have a number of important medicinal benefits - in particular, their roots contain steroidal saponins which are an efective treatment for many cases of psoriasis; they also have hormonal effects, and may improve fertility in women with ovarian dysfunction[
The rhizomes are alterative, digestive, febrifuge[
]. A decoction is used in the treatment of fevers, digestive disorders, kidney troubles and gonorrhoea[
]. It is also used against scrophulus, skin diseases and rheumatism[
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