Starting a series within a series, I will be highlighting shade plants that grow well underneath trees, especially California Live Oak. I have a deep shade area beneath many trees here in my own garden and i am constantly looking for plants that can help green this area. — Douglas

Yet another shady ground cover I could make use of here. My plant list is growing too long now. (LAUGH) While the back garden is shady and a bit dry, I have soaker hoses installed to provided a bit of specific moisture to the area. I could plant these near that system to give them the extra water they seem to want pretty easily.

California Spikenard and Elk Clover (Aralia californica)

Aralia californica leaf.jpg
Public Domain, Link

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Aralia californica, known by the common name elk clover though not actually a clover, is a large herb in the family Araliaceae, the only member of the ginseng family native to Californiaand southwestern Oregon.[1] It is also called California aralia and California spikenard.

It is a deciduousherbaceousperennial plant growing to a height of 2–3 m on stems which are thick but not woody. The stems bear large green pinnately compound or tri-pinnately compound leaves 1–2 m long and 1 m broad, the leaflets 15–30 cm long and 7–15 cm broad. The leaflets are arranged opposite with an odd terminal leaflet. The greenish white flowers are produced in large compound racemes of umbels 30–45 cm in diameter at the stem apex; each flower is 2–3 mm in diameter, and matures to small (3–5 mm) dark purple or black fruit, each berry containing 3–5 seeds.

It is distributed throughout western and central California and into Oregon. It is more common in cooler, moister areas in northern California, especially in the San Francisco Bay Area.

This plant is sometimes substituted for other species of its genus which are used as herbal remedies, such as American spikenard and Japanese spikenard. A preparation of the root has traditionally been used as an anti-inflammatory, douche, and cough suppressant. — Wikipedia

More information on California Spikenard and Elk Clover (Aralia californica):


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Previously in the Interesting Plant series: 

Interesting Plant is a series from A Gardener’s Notebook blog and podcast that highlights the most interesting plants I find in my Internet and real-world travels — Douglas