In a Nutshell:
* Aralia cordata is an upright herbaceous perennial plant growing up to 2 to 3 metres (6.6 to 9.8 ft) in height, native to Japan, Korea and eastern China. Its common names include spikenard, herbal aralia, udo , Japanese spikenard, and mountain asparagus.
* It is commonly found on the slopes of wooded embankments.
* The plant yields new shoots every spring, which are blanched and then eaten as a vegetable.
* The young shoots have a strong yet pleasant distinct aromatic flavor.
* In Korea, the dried root of the plant has been traditionally used as medicine.
* In addition to food and medicinal use, the plant is cultivated as an ornamental.
* During the summer it produces loose flower bunches 90 centimetres (3.0 ft) in length, which are attractive to bees and flies, making it ideal for beekeepers.
* The edible stem is sometimes boiled and served in miso soup. Despite its size, Aralia cordata is not a woody plant, as demonstrated in the popular saying udo no taiboku , literally "great wood of udo", meaning roughly "useless", as udo has a very soft stem. more...
* The root is sometimes used in China as a substitute for ginseng (Panax species). It is said to be analgesic, antiinflammatory, carminative, diuretic, febrifuge, stimulant, stomachic and tonic. The root contains an essential oil, saponins, sesquiterpenes and diterpene acids. It is used in Korea to treat the common cold and migraines.
* Sow seed as soon as ripe in a cold frame. Stored seed requires 3 - 5 months of cold stratification. Germination usually takes place within 1 - 4 months at 20°c. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in light shade in a greenhouse for at least their first winter. Once the plants are 25cm or more tall, they can be planted out into their permanent positions, late spring or early summer being the best time to do this. more...