South Dakota Native Plant Research
Araliaceae : Aralia racemosa

Araliaceae : Aralia racemosa


Download Seed: The seeds are 2.5-4mm long. (51 KB)

Download Leaves (285 KB)

Download Fruit (300 KB)

Family Name


Common Name

Spikenard, tato


Aralia racemosa is a perennial herb with a somewhat wood base, the stems purplish to spotted, 1-2 m in height. The alternate, compound pinnate leaves have 3-7 leaflets, up to 20 cm long and 15 cm wide, the leaflets varying in size on the same leaf, each with a saw-toothed margin. The inflorescence consists of terminal and axillary panicles of umbels, 4-40 cm long. The flowers have 5 tiny sepals (<1mm), 5 white petals, 1mm long, and 5 stamens. The fruit is a berry-like drupe, red to black in color, 5-6 mm in diameter. Spikenard flowers in July in wooded ravines and hillsides along the eastern edge of South Dakota.

Additional Notes

Spikenard is a large understory herb, dying back to the ground each year. It can be confused as a shrub because the base appears woody. The leaves are large, and the fruit are its most notable feature, attracting birds in late summer. Its flowers are pollinated by small wasps and bees.

Horticulture Notes

Seed collection: Fruit ripen in August and September and can be collected then. Remove seeds from pulp and refrigerate until planting.

Germination: Seeds do best if planted in the fall. They need a 60-day cold moist treatment for spring sowing.

Light: Partial shade.

Soil: Organically rich well drained soils.

Water: Medium to medium wet.

Araliaceae : Aralia racemosa