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Plant Description


Aralia racemosa L.

En: spikenard, petty morel, life-of-man
Fr: grande salsepareille, aralie à grappes, anis sauvage
Oj: (gi)chi-okaadaak, okaadaak, nezhikewang

Araliaceae (Ginseng Family)

Click on thumbnail to see larger image.
Aralia racemosaflpl Aralia racemosaflw Aralia racemosafrpl Aralia racemosafrt


General: A perennial, branching forb, to 3 m tall, growing from a large aromatic rhizome. Nectar is secreted from a disc (stylopodium) formed by the swollen base of the united styles.

Leaves: Very large, alternate, to 80 cm long, ternately divided, each division with 3–5 pinnate leaflets, each to 15 cm long. The ovate-cordate leaflets are petiolate, slightly pubescent, with an acuminate apex, rounded to slightly cordate base, are double serrate margins.

Flowers: Numerous, arranged in an elongate, branching cluster of spherical umbels, to 20 cm long; flowers white to greenish, to 2 mm across, perfect (bisexual), actinomorphic; sepals 5, distinct; petals 5; stamens 5; the inferior ovary has 5 carpels, usually bearing 1 ovule per locule, and 5 short styles united; flowering from June to August.

Fruit: A cluster of spherical, red (when immature) to dark purplish-black drupes, each to 6 mm across.

Habitat and Range: Rich moist woods and thickets. Spikenard is native to eastern North America; it extends as far north as the Batchewana region in Algoma District and the Thunder Bay region in western Ontario.

Internet Images: Aralia racemosa from Missouri Plants.
Aralia racemosa from Connecticut Botanical Society.

– written by Derek Goertz

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