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Aralia racemosa - L.

Common Name American Spikenard
Family Araliaceae
USDA hardiness 4-8
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Rich woodlands and thickets[21, 43].
Range Eastern N. America - Quebec to Georgia, west to Kansas and Minnesota.
Edibility Rating    (3 of 5)
Other Uses    (0 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (3 of 5)
Care
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Full shade Semi-shade
Aralia racemosa American Spikenard


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Aralia racemosa American Spikenard

 

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Summary


Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Aralia racemosa is a PERENNIAL growing to 1.8 m (6ft) by 1.2 m (4ft in).
It is hardy to zone (UK) 4 and is not frost tender. It is in flower in June. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is pollinated by Bees.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in full shade (deep woodland) or semi-shade (light woodland). It prefers moist soil.

Synonyms

Habitats

Woodland Garden Sunny Edge; Dappled Shade; Shady Edge; not Deep Shade;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Fruit;  Leaves;  Root.
Edible Uses: Condiment.

Young shoot tips - cooked[161]. Used as a potherb[207] or as a flavouring in soups[257]. Root - cooked. Large and spicy, it is used in soups[43, 105, 161, 177]. Pleasantly aromatic, imparting a liquorice-like flavour[183]. A substitute for sarsaparilla (Smilax spp.)[200], it is also used in making 'root beer'[183]. Fruit - raw or cooked[207]. Pleasant and wholesome to eat[207]. They can be made into a jelly[183, 207]. The fruit is about 4mm in diameter[200].

Medicinal Uses



Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

Alterative;  Antirheumatic;  Diaphoretic;  Expectorant;  Poultice;  Skin;  Stimulant.

American spikenard is a sweet pungent tonic herb that is often used in modern herbalism where it acts as an alterative[238]. It had a wide range of traditional uses amongst the North American Indians and was at one time widely used as a substitute for the tropical medicinal herb sarsaparilla[222, 257]. The root is alterative, diaphoretic, diuretic, pectoral and stimulant[4, 21, 46, 222]. The herb encourages sweating, is stimulating and detoxifying and so is used internally in the treatment of pulmonary diseases, asthma, rheumatism etc[4, 213, 238, 254]. Externally it is used as a poultice in treating rheumatism and skin problems such as eczema[4, 213, 238, 254]. The root is collected in late summer and the autumn and dried for later use[4, 213]. A drink made from the pulverised roots is used as a cough treatment[213]. A poultice made from the roots and/or the fruit is applied to sores, burns, itchy skin, ulcers, swellings etc[213, 222].

Other Uses

None known

Cultivation details

An easily grown plant, succeeding in sun or part shade in any fertile soil[233]. Prefers a good deep loam and a semi-shady position[1, 111, 134]. Requires a sheltered position[1]. Plants are hardier when grown in poorer soils[200]. The young growth in spring, even on mature plants, is frost-tender and so it is best to grow the plants in a position sheltered from the early morning sun[K]. Grows well by water[111].

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Propagation

Seed - best sown as soon as ripe in a cold frame. Stored seed requires 3 - 5 months of cold stratification. Germination usually takes place within 1 - 4 months at 20°c[134]. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in light shade in a greenhouse for at least their first winter. Once the plants are 25cm or more tall, they can be planted out into their permanent positions, late spring or early summer being the best time to do this. Root cuttings 8cm long, December in a cold frame[11, 78]. Store the roots upside down in sand and pot up in March/April. High percentage[78]. Division of suckers in late winter[11]. Very easy, the suckers can be planted out direct into their permanent positions if required.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameEdibility RatingMedicinal Rating
Aralia chinensisChinese Angelica Tree, Pumila Spirea, Chinese Astilbe22
Aralia continentalisManchurian Spikenard20
Aralia cordataUdo42
Aralia elataJapanese Angelica Tree, Angelica Tree22
Aralia hispidaBristly Sarsaparilla11
Aralia mandschuricaManchurian Angelica Tree22
Aralia nudicaulisWild Sarsaparilla43
Aralia schmidtiiSakhalin Spikenard20
Aralia spinosaHercule's Club, Aralia spinosa, American Angelica Tree, Hercules' Club, Devil's Walking Stick22
Eleutherococcus chiisanensis 20
Eleutherococcus divaricatus 20
Eleutherococcus gracylistylusWu Jia Pi13
Eleutherococcus innovansTaka-No-Tsume10
Eleutherococcus japonicus 10
Eleutherococcus senticosusSiberian Ginseng25
Eleutherococcus seoulensis 10
Eleutherococcus sessiliflorus 23
Eleutherococcus sieboldianusUkogi, Five Leafed Aralia30
Eleutherococcus spinosus 22
Eleutherococcus trifoliatus 11
Hedera helixIvy, English ivy, Algerian ivy, Baltic Ivy, Common Ivy03
Hedera nepalensisNepal Ivy02
Kalopanax sciadophylloides 10
Kalopanax septemlobusTree Aralia, Castor aralia21
Kirkophytum lyallii 10
Oplopanax horridusDevil's Club22
Panax ginsengGinseng, Chinese ginseng25
Panax japonicusJapanese Ginseng11
Panax pseudoginsengGinseng, Japanese ginseng13
12

 

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Expert comment

Author

L.

Botanical References

43200

Links / References

For a list of references used on this page please go here

Readers comment

   Nov 1 2011 12:00AM

I would be cautious about the edibility of A. racemosa berries. I have checked several other sources, and none list the berries as edible. Indeed, several specifically state that the berries are "inedible." One authoritative source I've checked is Lee Allen Peterson's EDIBLE WILD PLANTS, Eastern/Central North America (the "Peterson Field Guide" to the subject). He is not one of those who specifies the berries as "inedible," but he does not list them as one of the edible components of A. racemosa.

   Aug 26 2014 12:00AM

I'm eating the berries right now, and have been without ill effect for 5 years, having previously used their apple, iron, mint, licorice and sarsparilla flavor in beers, wines, and masculine roasts that give baronial British cooking a good name when I don't overcook the meat, which is always. I'm aiming for condensed and precise with this encomium; hope I didn't hit pompous by mistake Thanks PFAF founders, for this great site

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