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n 1 a  :  any of various tropical American plants of the genus Smilax  b  :  any of various plants (as wild sarsaparilla, Aralia nudicaulis) that resemble or are used as a substitute for the sarsaparillas  2 a  :  the dried roots of any of several sarsaparillas of the genus Smilax (esp. S. aristolochiaefolia, S. febrifuga, and S. regelii) used now esp. 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 .

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