New England Wild Flower Society

Aralia racemosa

American spikenard, life of man

American spikenard can be found in rich moist forests in New England where it often grows in the 18-30" range; spot it on a trail edge and it may top 36" but put it in a garden and provide it with decent soils and adequate moisture and this entirely herbaceous perennial can reach heights of 4-6' tall! The foliage and branching structure lends an almost woody/shrubby appearance to the plant and we love recommending the species for use under drip lines where falling snow means planting woody species is problematic. The flowers are texturally interesting though not as showy as many other floral displays, yet the following fruit display is fantastic. Masses of red to purple berries hang down in large clusters until they are finally snatched up by passing birds, chipmunks or hungry humans. Great muddled into gin and tonics.  

Height: 2-4 ft
Spread: 2-4 ft
Hardiness Zone: 3-8

Bloom Color: Insignificant

Characteristics & Attributes

Part Shade
Soil Moisture
(82) Acadian Plains and Hills
(58) Northeastern Highlands
(83) Eastern Great Lakes Lowlands
(59) Northeastern Coastal Zone
Attracts Wildlife
Attracts Bees
Attracts Butterflies
Other Pollinators/Wildlife
Attracts Songbirds
Ornamental Interest
Fall/Winter Fruit
Summer Fruit
Landscape Use
Deer/Rabbit Resistant
Additional Attributes

North American Distribution