Archive for September 1st, 2011

American Spikenard – Aralia racemose

American Spikenard edible berries beginning to ripen
American Spikenard edible berries beginning to ripen

While the king sitteth at his table,

my spikenard sendeth forth the smell thereof.

A bundle of myrrh is my well-beloved unto me;

he shall lie all night betwixt my breasts.


Song of Solomon 1:12-13 The Christian Bible


This native of eastern North America can be found on wooded slopes, and in rich, moist woods. You will often find it growing with other woodlands plants such as Jack in the Pulpit, Wild Ginseng, Bluebells, Trillium, Bloodroot, Christmas Fern, Dutchman’s Breeches, and many others. In Rhode Island it is listed as of Special Concern, and must be treat with care.


The roots are very aromatic, with a spicy scent. It has been used to treat all types of lung ailments including coughs, TB, and catarrh (inflammation of the mucous membranes). It has also been used for female complaints such as leucorrhea (vaginal discharge), Prolapse of the uterus, and chlorosis (a form of anemia).


The native American Indians used this plant extensively…Potawatomi used the root to make a poultice for treatment of swellings; and the Cherokees drank a decoction of the root for backache. Today it is oft used as an alterative.


The roots were often used for making early root beers!


In magic use spikenard is grounding, balancing and calming. It is known as ‘herb of the student’ because it increases mental clarity, helping the student to learn, remember and recall more easily the lessons at hand.