Aralia nudicaulis L.
Araliaceae (Ginseng Family)
USDA Symbol: arnu2
A single leaf stalk grows 18-24, dividing into three parts each with five oval leaflets. A separate stalk, shorter than the leaf stalk, bears ball-shaped clusters of tiny, greenish-white flowers followed in fall by dark purple berries. The leafless flower stem, topped with clusters of greenish-white flowers, is beneath a large, umbrella-like leaf. Often grows in colonies from extensive rootstock. The species name, from the Latin nudus (naked) and cauli (stalk), refers to the leafless flowerstalk.
From the Image Gallery
Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Perennial
Root Type: Tap
Leaf Complexity: Pinnate
Breeding System: Flowers Bisexual
Leaf: Dark Green
Flower: Flowers 1.5-2 in.
Fruit: Black, Purple
Size Class: 1-3 ft.
Bloom InformationBloom Color: White , Green , Brown
Bloom Time: May , Jun
DistributionUSA: CO , CT , DC , DE , GA , IA , ID , IL , IN , KY , MA , MD , ME , MI , MN , MO , MT , NC , ND , NE , NH , NJ , NY , OH , PA , RI , SC , SD , TN , VA , VT , WA , WI , WV , WY
Canada: AB , BC , MB , NB , NL , NS , NT , ON , PE , QC , SK , YT
Native Distribution: Transcontinental Canada, s. to GA mts., OH, IL, MN, SD & n.w. MT
Native Habitat: dry to moist woods
Growing ConditionsWater Use: Medium
Light Requirement: Sun , Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist
CaCO3 Tolerance: Medium
Soil Description: Poorer, relatively dry, soils.
Conditions Comments: Can become aggressive. Rootstock is used as a substitute for official sarsaparilla flavoring.
BenefitUse Food: The rhizome is aromatic and was used as emergency food by First Nations People (Clough). The root was used to make root beer and can be made into a tea. The aromatic rhizomes of this plant are used as a substitute for sarsaparilla.
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
PropagationDescription: Divide the creeping rootstock while the plant is dormant. Sarsaparilla can be grown from seed sown when ripe, but seedlings mature slowly.
Seed Collection: Seeds can be recovered fro the fruit by maceration and flotation.
Seed Treatment: Seeds may require cool-moist stratification.
Commercially Avail: yes
Find Seed or Plants
View propagation protocol from Native Plants Network.
National Wetland Indicator Status
From the National Organizations DirectoryAccording to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:
Natural Biodiversity - Johnstown, PA
Mt. Cuba Center - Hockessin, DE
BibliographyBibref 841 - Native Alternatives to Invasive Plants (2006) Burrell, C. C.
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Additional resourcesUSDA: Find Aralia nudicaulis in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Aralia nudicaulis in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Aralia nudicaulis
MetadataRecord Modified: 2012-11-26
Research By: TWC Staff