The Devils Walking Stick – Aralia Spinosa

Years ago, while walking along a stretch of University of Virginia woods, I spotted what looked like giant rose bushes. Research revealed they were spiny deciduous shrubs (resembling small trees) called Hercules Club or the Devils Walking Stick, Latin name Aralia spinosa. While the stems resemble rose bush stems, the density of the thorns is much greater. To a large degree, the shrubs spread by means of runners (rhizomes). The beautiful leaves are compound, ornate, and quite large. The flowers are creamy-white and are plentiful. The fruit clusters remind one of elderberry fruit. If its moderate spreading tendency can be tolerated, the shrub is a magnet for butterflies and small birds. Black bears will also eat the fruit. Deer may browse the plant and use it as a place to…
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