The American spikenard plant is a herbaceous, shrubby-looking, plant. This perennial plant grows to a height of about 3-4 feet tall. The stems of this herbaceous plant is smooth, widely branched, and have compound foliage. The stem is erect, 20-centimeter tall, pubescent, dark green to purple or reddish, arising from a thick, fleshy, aromatic root. The leaves of this perennial forb are alternately divided or decompounded, purple at the nodes, and petiolate. The petioles are about 5 centimeter long, and the terminal leaflet is lateral and elongated. The leaf stalks are divided into three sections and each one of them bears 3 or 5 large, oblong, acuminate, piercing, serrate, slightly downy leaflets. The leaflets are 20 centimeters long and 13 centimeters wide. The inflorescence of this perennial forb is extremely elongated and 6-7 centimeter in diameter. The umbels are abundant, small, subtended by minute bracts, prearranged in branching racemes from the axils of leaves or branches. They are self-possessed of small greenish-white flowers, followed by dark-purple berries. However, the flowers are triangular, whitish, and glabrous. The stamens, anthers and filaments of this herbaceous plant are erect, elongated, and highly glabrous. The entire plant gives a balsamic aroma.