Herb: Udo

Latin name: Aralia cordata

Synonyms: Aralia edulis, Aralia nutans

Family: Araliaceae (Ginseng Family)

Medicinal use of Udo:

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.

Description of the plant:


180 cm
(6 feet)

July to

Habitat of the herb:

Thickets and thin woods, esp. by streams and ravines, all over Japan.

Edible parts of Udo:

Young branched shoots - cooked or raw. They can be up to 1.5 metres long and have a mild and agreeable flavour. They are usually blanched and are crisp and tender with a unique lemon-like flavour. They can be sliced and added to salads, soups etc. The shoots contain about 1.1% protein, 0.42% fat, 0.8% soluble carbohydrate, 0.55% ash. Root - cooked. Used like scorzonera.

Propagation of the herb:

Seed - best sown 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 20C. 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. Root cuttings 8cm long, December in a cold frame. Store the roots upside down in sand and pot up in March/April. High percentage. Division of suckers in late winter. Very easy, the suckers can be planted out direct into their permanent positions if required.

Cultivation of Udo:

Thickets and thin woods, esp. by streams and ravines, all over Japan.

Known hazards of Aralia cordata:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.