Herb: Hercule's Club

Latin name: Aralia spinosa

Family: Araliaceae (Ginseng Family)

Medicinal use of Hercule's Club:

Analgesic. The bark, especially of the roots is the part most commonly used medicinally, though other parts of the plant, including the fruit, also possess medicinal properties. The fresh bark is strongly emetic, ophthalmic, purgative and sialagogue, when dried it is a stimulating alterative and is diaphoretic. A tincture of the berries is used in the treatment of toothache and rheumatism. A poultice of the roots is applied to boils, skin eruptions, varicose veins, old sores and swellings. A cold infusion of the roots is used as drops for sore eyes.

Description of the plant:


9 m
(30 feet)

August to

Habitat of the herb:

Buffs, rich woods and river banks in deep moist soils.

Edible parts of Hercule's Club:

Young leaves - cooked. The leaves usually have a number of slender prickles, they must be gathered before the prickles harden and are then chopped finely and used as a potherb.

Other uses of the herb:

Wood - close-grained, weak, light, soft, brittle. Of little economic value.

Propagation of Hercule's Club:

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 the herb:

Buffs, rich woods and river banks in deep moist soils.

Known hazards of Aralia spinosa:

Handling the roots can cause dermatitis in some people. Large amounts of the berries are poisonous.

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.