Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: American Spikenard
Aralia racemosa

Family: Araliaceae
Genus: Aralia (uh-RAY-lee-uh) (Info)
Species: racemosa (ray-see-MO-suh) (Info)

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10 members have or want this plant for trade.

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36-48 in. (90-120 cm)

24-36 in. (60-90 cm)

USDA Zone 3a: to -39.9 C (-40 F)
USDA Zone 3b: to -37.2 C (-35 F)
USDA Zone 4a: to -34.4 C (-30 F)
USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 C (-25 F)
USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)
USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)
USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)
USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)
USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)
USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)
USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)

Sun Exposure:
Sun to Partial Shade


Bloom Color:
White/Near White

Bloom Time:
Late Spring/Early Summer


Other details:
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Soil pH requirements:
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)
7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall
From seed; winter sow in vented containers, coldframe or unheated greenhouse
From seed; stratify if sowing indoors

Seed Collecting:
Collect seedhead/pod when flowers fade; allow to dry
Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored

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3 positives
2 neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive Vermontrealer On Oct 17, 2012, Vermontrealer wrote:

Arelia racemosa ssp. racemosa was lovely in mid September in the Garden in the Woods, operated by the New England Wild Flower Society, in Framingham, MA.

Positive l6blue On Sep 12, 2011, l6blue from Coon Rapids, MN (Zone 4b) wrote:

This plant does very well in my shady yard. The flowers provide interest, but the real pay-off is the berries. The dark red-black berry clusters are beautiful.

Neutral frostweed On Nov 28, 2006, frostweed from Josephine, Arlington, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

American Spikenard Aralia racemosa is native to Texas and other States.

Positive Malus2006 On Mar 7, 2006, Malus2006 from Coon Rapids, MN (Zone 4a) wrote:

American Spikenard is one of the largest native perennial in shade in the Upper Midwest Area. It is beginning to show up in native nurseries. It have very large compound leaves and can tolerate a wide range of conditons but it look vulnerable to winds. It seeds itself at a medium to low rate, and its difficult to tell if birds or rodents eat the fruits. It doesn't seem to like droughts too much and tend to become stressed and shed it leaves early about late summer to early fall if it get more direct sun. I collected my plant from the wild near a lake in woodland shade above the water table with small numbers of ostrich ferns and hepticas.

Neutral smiln32 On Aug 31, 2001, smiln32 from Oklahoma City, OK (Zone 7a) wrote:

Spikenard is a shrubby-looking, soft-stemmed, Missouri native herbaceous perennial which occurs on wooded slopes, ledges and ravines in the Ozark region and in rich, moist woods of the northeast region of the State. Features smooth, branching stems typically growing 3-5' tall (less frequently to 6') and compound foliage (9-21 coarse, heart-shaped, toothed leaflets). Tiny white flowers in numerous small umbels arranged in long, terminal panicles appear in early summer. Flowers are followed by inedible, dark purple berries. Thick roots are spicy-aromatic and have been used to flavor teas and root beer.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Elkton, Maryland
Peabody, Massachusetts
Sandwich, Massachusetts
Midland, Michigan
Lake Park, Minnesota
Minneapolis, Minnesota (2 reports)
Plainfield, New Jersey
Falconer, New York
Millbrook, New York
Wallkill, New York
Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania
Cranston, Rhode Island
Woodstock, Vermont
Alexandria, Virginia
Leesburg, Virginia
Lexington, Virginia

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