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Devil's Walking Stick (Aralia spinosa)

Devil's Walking Stick Flower Devil's Walking Stick Stem As you walk to the end of Marsh Road, look to the right for a dense thicket of Devil’s Walking Stick that exhibits large terminal clusters of creamy white flowers and large compound leaves. This relatively small tree gets its name from the club-shaped branches and the “vicious” prickles along the trunk, especially at the nodes. The prickles only form during the first year of growth, and as the tree matures the older stems gradually lose their prickles.

Devil's Walking Stick Leaf Devil's Walking Stick Fruit Leaves are doubly or triply compound and may be up to 5 feet in length, with individual leaflets 2-4 inches long. The purple to black fruits mature in late summer and early fall and are eaten and dispersed by birds; the foliage may be browsed by deer. Parts of the plant were used by Native Americans and early settlers for a variety of medicinal purposes. Today it is used as an ornamental plant by gardeners. Devil’s Walking Stick is native to the southeast, but has been successfully introduced to many other parts of the eastern U.S. It belongs to the plant family Araliaceae and is in the same genus as wild sarsaparilla (Aralia nudicaulis) which is also native to our area.

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University of Tennessee - Forest Resources AgResearch and Education Center
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