The American spikenard is a shrubby-looking perennial with large compound leaves and numerous inflorescences of greenish flowers, followed by colourful, conspicuous clusters of fruits in the fall. By late August they start turning red and then dark purple, and the spikenard becomes a subject of conversation in the garden.
Cultivated, but not too often, in the past it has had various other uses (the roots): for flavoring teas, as an ingredient in root beer and medicinal (it makes sense as it belongs to the ginseng family). Native Americans used the root as a blood purifying spring tonic (see common name).
best sown in the fall or in the spring after 3-4 months of cold-moist stratification.
Update: indicated as requiring warm/cold cycles (Baskin & Baskin; when sown in late fall/winter will germinate in the second year.