Aralia cordata

Cordate Spikenard

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Item #: 2174

Zones: 4a to 8b, at least

Dormancy: Winter

Height: 96" tall

Culture: Part Sun to Light Shade

Origin: China, Japan, Korea

Pot Size: 3.5" pot (24 fl. oz/0.7 L)

With the huge number of plants we've grown over the years, it's still hard to beat the Asian (Japan, China, Korea) Aralia cordata. This easy-to-grow deciduous, deer resistant perennial matures in rich moist soils as an 8' tall x 8' wide monster...perfect for those who like bold, tropical-looking textures in their garden. Each pinnately-compound 4' long x 3.5' wide leaf attaches to the thick, bumpy, upright, green stalk, resembling an astilbe on steroids. Starting in late June, the clumps are topped with 2' long racemes of tiny white flowers which later turn into equally large racemes of small purple berries. In the South, we refer to plants like this as "big honkers". Not only is it great in the garden, but it's quite edible in salads and soups, and is known in Japan as Udo.


Other than cleaning up the old foliage after the plant goes dormant in fall, there's little else that's needed.

Growing Conditions:

It grows well in both sun and part sun. Although it will also grow in light open shade, the foliage will not remain bright gold. Evenly moist soils are best, although it is tolerant of both soils that stay moist and can handle short term droughts fine, although it may drop some foliage. Dry soils can cause plant stress, which can lead to pests like spider mites.

Garden Value:

Cordate spikenard is one of a small number of bold-textured, gold foliaged plants in the garden. It can be seen from quite a distance, so can be used to visually make distant parts of the garden appear to be closer.

Natural Impacts:

The flowers are attractive to pollinators like many of the native wasps.