Aralia cordata, better known as Japanese Spikenard, is a large evergreen shrub native to China, Japan and Korea. Growing up to 5-10 ft tall and 2-5 ft wide, this deciduous, perennial shrub does well in semi-shade environments and prefers regular watering. As a bonus, this plant also produces edible black drupes that attract butterflies and hummingbirds. It can be grown in USDA Zones 5-10, with moderate to high water requirements.
The black drupes produced by Aralia cordata are not only edible but they are also packed with vitamins, minerals and other beneficial components that benefit human health. Remarkably, this plant is capable of producing hundreds of drupes each year, providing a great source of nourishment to those who consume them. The drupes are typically eaten raw and have a crunchy texture, but they can also be used in cakes, pies and jams.
When growing the Aralia cordata in the Northern regions, it's best to grow it in a container to prevent it from freezing during the cold winter months. It should be placed in an area that receives partial sun exposure, and watered well during the summer months. In the winter, the frequency of watering should be reduced, but not completely stopped. When caring for this plant, it's important to not overwater it as it will not tolerate standing water.