Aralia nudicaulis. Small Spikenard.
Nat. Ord. — Araliaceae. Sex. Syst. — Pentandria Pentagynia.
Description. — Aralia Nudicaulis is an indigenous perennial plant, with one leaf and one flower-stem, springing together from the root, or from a very short stalk, and seldom rising two feet in Light. The root is large and fleshy. The leaf, which stands upon a long footstalk, is either tri-ternate, or tri-quinate, with oblong-oval, acuminate leaflets, rounded at the base, serrate on the margin, and smooth on both surfaces. The flower-stem or scape is naked, shorter than the leaf, and terminating by three small umbels, each consisting of from twelve to thirty yellowish or greenish flowers. The fruit consists of small round berries, about the size of the common elder. The root is horizontal, creeping, several feet in length, more or less twisted, as thick as the little finger, and of a yellowish-brown color externally.
History. — This plant, sometimes known as American, Wild, or False Sarsaparilla, is indigenous, growing in rocky woods and rich soils in the northern and middle States. The root, which is the officinal part, possesses a fragrant balsamic odor, and a warm, aromatic, sweetish taste. It yields its virtues to water or alcohol.
Properties and Uses. — Alterative, and gently stimulant. Used in decoction or syrup as a substitute for Smilax Sarsaparilla, in cutaneous, rheumatic and syphilitic affections ; also in pulmonary diseases. Externally, a strong decoction of it is useful as an application to zona (shingles) and as a stimulant wash to old ulcers.
The Aralia Racemosa, Pettymorrel, or Spikenard, has a herbaceous, widely-branched, smooth stem, three or four feet in hight, dark-green, or reddish, and arising from a thick aromatic root ; the leaves are decompound ; the leaf-stalks divide into three partitions, each of which bears three or five large, ovate, pointed, serrate, slightly downy leaflets. Umbels numerous, small, arranged in branching racemes from the axils of the leaves or branches. It flowers in July, and grows in rich woodlands. The root is large, spicy, and aromatic, and possesses properties similar to that of the A. Nudicaulis; it is much used in pulmonary affections, and enters into the compound syrup of spikenard.
Off. Prep. — Syrupus Araliae Compositus.