Aralia racemosa

Aralia racemosa L.

Common Names

spikenard, American spikenard, Indian root, spignet, spiceberry, pettymorrel, life-of-man, old mna's root

Languages: English

Overview

General Description

Perennial herb, 0.6-2.5 m tall with large aromatic roots. Stem pilose, dark purple to greenish purple, with 4-5 leaves; rhizomes thick and horizontal. Leaves ternately compound, spreading, 50-83 cm long, 54-87 cm wide, purple at nodes; stipules narrowly triangular to lanceolate, not leafy, glabrous, ciliate at margin, 1.2-1.5 cm long, 0.4-0.9 cm wide, thick papery; petioles 15-30 cm long, purple; leaflets thin papery, the pair of leaflets below the terminal leaflet ovate, other leaflets ovate to broadly so, 7-20.5 cm long, 4.5-14 cm wide, acute at apex, subcordate to cordate at base, commonly oblique on lateral leaflets, doubly serrate at margin; lateral veins 8-9 on each side, conspicuous on both surfaces, leaflets green, nearly glabrescent on upper surface, pilose on lower surface, petiolules 0-3 cm long, pilose. Inflorescence terminal and axillary, pubescent; axillary inflorescences 6-21 cm long; terminal inflorescence 15-40 cm long, 12-26 cm wide, consisting of numerous umbels, primary inflorescence branches 15-25, racemosely arranged on a main axis, often 3-5 forming a circle on the upper part of the main inflorescence axis, each primary branch 3-14.5 cm long, consisting of 1-10 umbels, with a few lateral umbels bearing no fruits (functionally male umbels); terminal umbels 20-25-flowered, pedicels pubescent, 6-8 mm long, tip enlarged conspicuously at anthesis, somewhat slightly enclosing the base of the hypanthium; lateral umbels 10-20-flowered, pedicels 3-5 mm long; bracts of primary branches linear, more or less pilose, ciliate at margin, 3-5 mm long, 0.5-1 mm wide; bracteoles linear, 1.0-1.5 mm long, 0.2-0.3 mm wide, ciliate at margin. Sepals triangular, 0.2-0.3 mm long and wide, glabrous, persistent on fruits. Petals ovate, greenish white to white, with a conspicuous vascular bundle in the middle, 1.4-1.6 mm long, 0.9-1.1 mm wide, spreading to recurved at anthesis. Stamens 5, erect at anthesis, filaments 1.3-1.5 mm long, anthers oblong, whitish yellow, 0.4-0.5 mm long, 0.2-0.3 mm wide. Ovary 5-locular, styles 0.6-0.7 mm long at anthesis, base of styles more or less enlarged, appearing like a stylopodium. Fruits globose, dark purple to purple, turning dark maroon-red when mature, 4-4.5 mm long, 3.5-4.5 mm wide, persistent styles divided to the middle, 1.3-1.5 mm long. Seeds kidney shaped, whitish gray, smooth, 2-2.2 mm long, 1-1.2 mm wide, 0.2-0.25 mm thick.

Author(s): Wen, Jun
Rights holder(s): Wen, Jun

Description

Genetics

There are some reports for the chromosomal data of Aralia racemosa. The counts of number are 2n = 24 (Löve and Löve, 1982). The base chromosome number of Aralia has been suggested to be x = 12 (Wen, 2002, 2004; Yi et al., 2004).

Author(s): Wen, Jun
Rights holder(s): Wen, Jun

Ecology and Distribution

Cyclicity

Flowering from June to August; fruiting in August and October.

Author(s): Wen, Jun
Rights holder(s): Wen, Jun

Distribution

Aralia racemosa is widely distributed in eastern U.S.A. and Canada, westward to South Dakota and North Dakota, south to Georgia and Alabama.

Author(s): Wen, Jun
Rights holder(s): Wen, Jun

Evolution

Based on the morphological variation, Wen (1993) provided a generic delimitation of Aralia, in which Aralia racemosa belong to section Aralia.

Author(s): Wen, Jun
Rights holder(s): Wen, Jun

Habitat

Growing in deciduous forests, wooded slopes, ravines, moist bluffs, riverside forests, creeksides, and streamsides; 200-1500 m.

Author(s): Wen, Jun
Rights holder(s): Wen, Jun

Relevance

Uses

Aromatic roots used in syrup of spikenard, a tonic, or for cough and irritation of the broncho-pulmonary tract.

Author(s): Wen, Jun
Rights holder(s): Wen, Jun

Reproductive Behaviour

Reproduction

Lovell (1898) noted that proterandrous dichogamy is strongly developed in Aralia racemosa.

Author(s): Wen, Jun
Rights holder(s): Wen, Jun

Taxonomy

  • Aralia racemosa L. var. foliosa Vict. & Rousseau (synonym)

References

Lovell, J. H. (1898).  The insect-visitors of flowers. Bull. Torrey Bot. Club. 25,
Löve, A., & Löve D. (1982).  IOPB chromosome number reports LXXV. Taxon. 31,
Wen, J. (1993).  Generic delimitation of Aralia L. (Araliaceae). Brittonia. 45,
Wen, J. (2002).  Revision of Araia sect. Pentapanax (Seem.) J. Wen (Araliaceae). Cathaya. 13-14,
Wen, J. (2004).  Systematics and biogeography of Araia sect. Dimorphanthu (Miq.) Miq. (Araliaceae). cathaya. 15-16,
Yi, T. S., Lowry II P. P., Plunkett G. M., & Wen J. (2004).  Chromosomal evolution in Araliaceae and close relatives. Taxon. 53,