American Spikenard

Aralia racemosa

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

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Characteristics:

Unknown - Tell us

Water Requirements:

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us


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:

Unknown - Tell us

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


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

Bethlehem, Pennsylvania

Devon, Pennsylvania

Hermitage, Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania

Cranston, Rhode Island

Woodstock, Vermont

Alexandria, Virginia

Leesburg, Virginia

Lexington, Virginia

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Gardeners' Notes:


On Feb 25, 2017, PhillyLover from Philadelphia Suburbs, PA (Zone 7a) wrote:

I grew several of these from berries collected from a mature plant. I removed the seeds, sowed in pots, stratified over the winter in the garage and had excellent germination in the spring. They were relatively slow to grow as young plants in cell packs but once I transplanted them into the garden they really took off. I planted them in several areas with good, moist soil in 1/2 to 3/4 day sun . The more sun, the more growth. The leaves are large and tropical looking. By the end of their first full year in the ground, they were already 3' tall by 2 1/2' wide. Flowering is heavy, lasts for about a month or so and attracts a lot of pollinators. The black berries develop quickly and were gobbled up by the birds. Although in the summer they look like shrubs, they are actually herbaceous perenn... read more


On Aug 7, 2016, Rickwebb from Downingtown, PA wrote:

An impressive, big woodland perennial with purple, smooth stems and compound leaves with 6 to 21 heart-shaped leaflets. Nice umbel clusters of small white flowers in June-July of summer. Native from southern Quebec to Manitoba south to Georgia to Texas to AR.


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.


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.


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

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


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.


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.