The root of Aralia racemosa, Linné.
COMMON NAMES: American spikenard, Spignet, Pettymorrel.
Botanical Source.—Spignet is an indigenous perennial, having an herbaceous, widely branched, smooth stem, 3 or 4 feet in height, of a dark-green or reddish color, arising from a thick, fleshy, aromatic root. The leaves are decompound; the leaf-stalks dividing into three partitions, each of which bears 3 or 5 large, ovate, pointed, serrate, slightly downy leaflets. The umbels are numerous, small, arranged in branching racemes from the axils of leaves or branches, and are composed of small greenish-white flowers, succeeded by dark-purple berries.
History.—This plant grows from Canada to Georgia, and westward throughout the United States. It flowers in July, and is found in rich woodlands, and rocky situations, often growing in the crevices of rocky declivities.
Description and Chemical Composition.—The rhizome is from 4 to 8 inches long, and several inches in thickness, growing obliquely, and having a light-brown color externally, being whitish within. It is prominently marked by scars or cavities, an inch or more in width, where stems of the previous year were attached. The older stem-scars are deepest. The rootlets are long, often attaining a length of 2 or 3 feet, and being about 1 inch in thickness at the base. Their color is like that of the rhizome, the central portion being reddish. They are sparingly branched, and somewhat wrinkled. They break easily, with an irregular, transverse fracture. The taste is pleasantly spicy and balsamic, and the odor of the root peculiar and agreeably aromatic. The whole plant, when bruised, gives off this balsamic aroma. Its constituents are those of the A. nudicaulis.
Action, Medical Uses, and Dosage.—The root of Aralia racemosa possesses properties similar to that of the A. nudicaulis;it was formerly much used in pulmonary affections, and enters into the compound syrup of spikenard. Dose: specific aralia racemosa, 5 to 30 drops in water, 4 times a day; infusion (℥ss to aqua Oj), ½ to 2 fluid ounces.
Specific Indications and Uses.—Atonic states, with cough and irritation of the broncho-pulmonary tract; catarrhal affections.
Related Species.—Aralia californica, California spikenard. Resembles A. racemosa in properties and appearance, though both the root and plant are larger.