American Spikenard

A Beautiful Medicinal Native Plant

American Spikenard (Aralia racemosa) with ripening fruit.
American Spikenard (Aralia racemosa) with ripening fruit.

American spikenard (Aralia racemosa) is one of my favorite shade-loving native plants under cultivation at Distant Hill Gardens.


American spikenard is a relative of ginseng.  A perennial here at Distant Hill Gardens, it reaches up to 6 feet in height and makes a striking display in the garden. The plant produces tiny greenish-white flowers in rounded clusters in the summer and dark purple-red berries in the fall.


One of its most beautiful attributes of Aralia racemosa are its heart-shaped leaves that can reach up to 8 inches across.

We grew our Spikenard from seed  gathered from native specimens in our woods.


Medicinally, the roots of American Spikenard have a number of uses, including as a diuretic and as an expectorant. Native Americans used an infusion of the roots to treat a wide variety of ailments, including tuberculosis, coughs, colds, sore throats, menstrual problems, kidney problems, and lung diseases. They also applied a poultice of the root to burns, swelling, wounds, boils, sprained muscles, and broken bones.