Hercules' Club, Devil's Walking Stick, Angelica Tree
Aralia spinosa

Family: Araliaceae
Genus: Aralia (uh-RAY-lee-uh) (Info)
Species: spinosa (spy-NO-suh) (Info)

Category:

Shrubs

Height:

12-15 ft. (3.6-4.7 m)

15-20 ft. (4.7-6 m)

Spacing:

12-15 ft. (3.6-4.7 m)

Hardiness:

USDA Zone 4a: to -34.4 C (-30 F)

USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 C (-25 F)

USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)

USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)

USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)

USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)

USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)

USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)

USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)

USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)

USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)

USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)

Sun Exposure:

Sun to Partial Shade

Danger:

Parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Handling plant may cause skin irritation or allergic reaction

Bloom Color:

White/Near White

Bloom Time:

Mid Summer

Foliage:

Grown for foliage

Deciduous

Other details:

This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds

Soil pH requirements:

6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

Patent Information:

Non-patented

Propagation Methods:

By dividing rhizomes, tubers, corms or bulbs (including offsets)

From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall

From seed; stratify if sowing indoors

Seed Collecting:

Allow unblemished fruit to ripen; clean and dry seeds

Unblemished fruit must be significantly overripe before harvesting seed; clean and dry seeds

Regional

This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Mobile, Alabama

Stockton, Alabama

Morrilton, Arkansas

Madison, Connecticut

Ocean View, Delaware

Apopka, Florida

Daytona Beach, Florida

Tampa, Florida

Atlanta, Georgia

Lisle, Illinois

Elizabeth, Indiana

Georgetown, Indiana

Tell City, Indiana

Benton, Kentucky

Clermont, Kentucky

Frankfort, Kentucky

Georgetown, Kentucky

Louisville, Kentucky

Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Denham Springs, Louisiana

Mandeville, Louisiana

Crofton, Maryland

Cumberland, Maryland

Millersville, Maryland

Roslindale, Massachusetts

Leakesville, Mississippi

Madison, Mississippi

Marietta, Mississippi

Morristown, New Jersey

Ithaca, New York

Grantsboro, North Carolina

Barberton, Ohio

Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania

Bluffton, South Carolina

Conway, South Carolina

Summerville, South Carolina

Dickson, Tennessee

Stewart, Tennessee

Austin, Texas (2 reports)

Plantersville, Texas

Leesburg, Virginia

Lexington, Virginia

Vienna, Virginia

Buckley, Washington

show all

Gardeners' Notes:

5
positives
8
neutrals
3
negatives
RatingContent
Neutral

On Mar 13, 2014, coriaceous from ROSLINDALE, MA wrote:

This native plant has many features that rule it out for most landscape applications---its vicious spines, its coarse appearance in winter, its lack of consistent fall color, but most of all its spreading, suckering, colonizing habit, like sumac or bamboo.

Its foliage does give it an exotic, tropical appearance, and there are places where it might be suitable.

This is frequently (and understandably) confused with its very similar Japanese relation, Aralia elata, which has been found invading natural areas in the mid-Atlantic states.

Positive

On Jan 28, 2014, Rickwebb from Downingtown, PA wrote:

I thought I saw this small tree growing wild in and around the woods in southeast PA in various locations here and there, but it was the Japanese Devil's-Walkingstick that is so similar, but that bears flower and fruit clusters laterally instead of terminally as the American species does. I took photos of the true native species planted at Morton Arboretum near a parking lot at the Administrative Building in June 2015. The American Devils-Walkingstick is a native plant of the South and the mid-Atlantic that is good for very naturalistic landscapes, not for refined ones since it ground suckers a lot to form a colony. Birds and small mammals eat the black berries. It has a very tropical appearance, with many tropical relatives, and can be used in a tropical themed landscape. The Philadelphi... read more

Neutral

On Jun 30, 2012, SuburbanNinja80 from Plainfield, IN (Zone 6a) wrote:

I Think I accidentally Pick up a stick to do something and that Freaking hurt like Heck. THEY HAVE THORNS EVER WERE EVEN ON THE LEAFS!!! This Tree over protected its self.

Negative

On Jun 2, 2012, cameo2069 from Madison, CT wrote:

This plant self seeded in an overgrown area of my acre yard. It grows fast, suckers exorbitantly and because of the thorns it is a pain (literally!) to remove. Last year in Hurricane Irene the largest specimen (25 feet tall) was bowed in half since its branches are very weak. I detest it. Since I'm not very big at 5 ft. 3 in. and do not have garden help it is not a welcome intruder at my shoreline CT home.

Negative

On Feb 22, 2010, Luv2Q from Bryan, TX wrote:

Our location: Southern Robertson Co., TX .. very sandy soil.

I agree with all who admire the beauty of this plant. We have one near the house that's 20-25 ft tall and has a beautiful canopy.

With that said, I absolutely hate the d*** things! Drive your tractor near one while mowing and your shirt (or skin!) will be in shreds. They sprout up from bird droppings along fences and, if not eliminated right away, are a real pain to control later, especially if kudzu or the like get mixed in with them.

Personally, I'd never plant one on purpose. Too many other attractive choices.

Neutral

On Nov 28, 2006, frostweed from Josephine, Arlington, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

Hercules' Club, Devil's Walking Stick, Angelica Tree Aralia spinosa is native to Texas and other States.

Neutral

On Sep 12, 2006, sallyg from Anne Arundel,, MD (Zone 7b) wrote:

I got one self planted a few years ago, and have moved it to a permanent home. 2 feet tall, in mostly shade near a maple and already bloomed this year. It's the only one I've had in 17 yrs here, though there are many in woods around here. I am in the coastal plain region so I'm guessing my geography is a lot like NJ.
I think it's very interesting to the kids as long as you have a look but don't touch place for it. Triple- compound leaves. I would say if you will have one, be sure to place it while little and not have to try to touch it ever!
I have edited my original comment above and gone from positive to neutral. After having it in my garden for about five years from seedling, I guess it matured enough to invade. Dozens of root suckers sprouted up, around the tree i... read more

Neutral

On Jun 19, 2006, Jack1922 from Waynesboro, MS wrote:

Devil's Walking Stick, Aralia spinosa, growing out in the woods (not cultivated) in Choctaw County, Alabama and on a fencerow in Wayne County, Mississippi.

Neutral

On Jun 1, 2006, Tonilock from Berkeley Heights, NJ wrote:

I live in New Jersey. I am trying to figure out if I have a Devil's Walking Stick in my yard. It did not exist when we bought our house in 2003. It appeared the following year in the wooded area behind us all on it's own. It is a tall "stick" (over 5 ft tall) which has thorns on the trunk. In the winter, there are no leaves or branches at all. In the spring, a bud type thing grows at the top of the stick which then becomes branchy. Now it looks like a small tree. The branches all grow from the top of the stick and the leaves off the branches grow in pairs all along the branch. The leaves look like elongated hearts. It sort of looks "ferny" Someone told me that if this is indeed what I have, I should get rid of it by putting Round Up on it as this will spread and take over. I'd b... read more

Negative

On Feb 3, 2006, raisedbedbob from Walkerton, VA (Zone 7a) wrote:

This plant may have all sorts of positive qualities; but until you have grabbed onto one while climbing up a hillside; you have not experienced pain. I have eliminated all of them on my land wherever a might walk.

Positive

On Aug 5, 2005, melody from Benton, KY (Zone 7a) wrote:

This unique shrub or small tree has aromatic foliage and spiny stems.
It is found in moist soils, near streams and as an understory plant in hardwood forests. Often, large thickets form from the root sprouts.

It's range is from NJ and NY south to central FL. West to east TX and north to SE MO. It is naturalized north to New England, southern Ontario and into WI.

Used in Victorian gardens as a grotesque ornamental, the aromatic roots and fruit were used by settlers as home remedies...mainly for toothache.

The plants that I've photographed are at the edges of a very old cemetary, in the understory of an elderly forest. The gravestones have many deaths recorded before 1900. I'm speculating that they might have originally been planted there d... read more

Positive

On Jul 19, 2005, oliverbutthead from Plantersville, TX wrote:

devils walking stick is found growing in the woods about 30 miles north of Houston in the Conroe area. I have only seen one stand of it around but has been since probably dozed out since the last time seen due to urban sprawl. A "thicket" of it is a very beautiful sight. Very interesting plant!

Positive

On Mar 26, 2005, freebird12479 from Grantsboro, NC wrote:

I have always seen this plant in the woods behind my house, but never knew anything about it. Then a friend from school moved in across the street from my house and told me that some of her family was Korean and that they eat part of the plant. So i looked into it and picked the little green bud that starts in spring. She told me to wait until it was a few inches tall and pull the stalk down(without breaking it) and pop the top off. Then she blanches it in boiling water and soaks it for a few hours, changing the water often. She eats it with hot sauce, i only eat it with hot sauce and some kind of meat, chopped up and mixed. Her family calls it "too doops" or tree-tops. It grows everywhere behind the house, but mainly on the north edge of the woods line. Any questions email me(freebir... read more

Neutral

On Aug 19, 2004, hoosierfarmboy from Franklinton, LA (Zone 8b) wrote:

I recently found this plant growing in the wild near Cannelton, Indiana (on the banks of the Ohio River). It was seen in a forest setting, interestingly only, or mostly, on the west slopes of dry ridgetops. This is in zone 6A.

Positive

On Jun 11, 2004, patp from Summerville, SC (Zone 8a) wrote:

We discovered Devil's Walking Stick when we bought this property in 1989 but didn't fully appreciate it's unique beauty until we saw it growing at Biltmore Estate, Asheville NC. In our Zone 8a region, the plant is very easy to control and not at all invasive. It thrives in deep shade but also tolerates direct sunlight, is drought tolerant and deer resistant, and is a conversation piece. It looks like something that would have survived from prehistoric times.

Neutral

On Sep 3, 2001, mystic from Ewing, KY (Zone 6a) wrote:

This spiny shrub when mature may grow to 20 feet or more and develop a few branches, but younger plants have just a single naked stem with all the leaves clustered at the top. Its thick,thorny stems and dense branching will make it a good choice as a barrier plant.This viciously spiny thing could be used as a living fence in place of barbed wire. The large, flat clusters of small white flowers are produced in late summer. These are followed by the purple to nearly black fruit that matures in August or September. The fruit are eaten by the birds and other wildlife and the flowers attract honeybees.The large,compound leaves will turn yellow in the fall.The raw berries are mildly toxic if ingested.Contact with the bark or roots can cause brief skin irritation.Will grow in full sun or light sh... read more