Bristly sarsaparilla has flower clusters that may be a little over an inch across, near the top of a two-foot stem. That stalk is likely to be very bristly near the ground, but smooth near the top. Like other sarsaparillas, it has been used for medicine and to flavor teas and root beers. For example, herbalists might use this as an alterative. Alteratives "gradually restore the proper function of the body and increase health and vitality". That item goes on to say their action is not well understood in pharmacology. Imagine! Think we should just stick to A&W or Hires? Bristly sarsaparilla grows in open, often sandy areas in CT, IL, IN, KY, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, NC, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, RI, VA, VT, WI, WV, LB, MB, NB, NF, NS, ON, PE, QC, and SK. Baraga Co MI, 7/13/14. Ginseng family, Araliaceae.