Aralia (pron.: //), or spikenard, is a genus of the family Araliaceae, consisting of 68 accepted species of deciduous or evergreen trees, shrubs, and rhizomatous herbaceous perennials. The genus is native to Asia and the Americas, with most species occurring in mountain woodlands. Aralia plants vary in size, with some herbaceous species only reaching 50 centimetres (20 in) tall, while some are trees growing to 20 metres (66 ft) tall.
Aralia plants have large bipinnate (doubly compound) leaves clustered at the ends of their stems or branches; in some species the leaves are covered with bristles. The stems of some woody species are quite prickly, as in Aralia spinosa. The flowers are whitish or greenish occurring in terminal panicles, and the spherical dark purple berry-like fruits are popular with birds.
Genus concept 
The taxonomic circumscription of the genus Aralia has varied greatly. Species formerly included in wider views of the genus are now included in such separate genera as Fatsia, Macropanax, Oreopanax, Panax, Polyscias, Pseudopanax, Schefflera, and Tetrapanax.
The genus Dimorphanthus, formerly considered distinct by some, is now included within Aralia as a section within that genus.
- Sunset Western Garden Book, 1995:606–607
- Frodin, D. G. and R. Govaerts. 2003. World Checklist and Bibliography of Araliaceae. Kew, UK: The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
- Wen, J. 2004. Systematics and biogeography of Aralia L. sect. Dimorphanthus (Miq.) Miq. (Araliaceae). Cathaya 15-16: 1-187.
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