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Aralia elata en fleur4081.jpg
Aralia elata
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Asterids
Order: Apiales
Family: Araliaceae
Subfamily: Aralioideae
Genus: Aralia

Aralia /əˈrliə/,[1] 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.

Aralia species are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species, including the common emerald (Hemithea aestivaria). There are many colours of aralia flowers. The main flower is whitish aralia.

Some species, notably Aralia cordata, are edible and are cultivated for human consumption.


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.

Fossil record[edit]

Aralia macrofossils have been recovered from the late Zanclean stage of Pliocene sites in Pocapaglia, Italy.[2]



  1. ^ Sunset Western Garden Book, 1995:606–607
  2. ^ Messian to Zanclean vegetation and climate of Northern and Central Italy by Adele Bertini & Edoardo Martinetto, Bollettino della Societa Paleontologica Italiana, 47 (2), 2008, 105-121. Modena, 11 lugio 2008.


  • 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.

External links[edit]