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A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Thursday - November 22, 2007

From: Kelso, WA
Region: Northwest
Topic: Invasive Plants
Title: How to get rid of devils club (Oplopanax horridus)
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

please tell me how to get rid of devils club!!!

ANSWER:

You don't say how much Oplopanax horridus (devilsclub) you have and how large it is; but, no matter how much or how large, you do have a truly a thorny problem—literally. For most plants the key to getting rid of them is to pull or dig them up and dispose of them. This is not such a simple matter for devil's club because of all those thorns. So, here is Mr. Smarty Plant's recommendation:

Buy yourself some heavy gloves and wear a heavy jacket and tough pants. For the small plants cut off all the thorns near the base of the plant so that you put your hand around the stem and, wearing your heavy gloves, pull up the small plant. If the plants are too large to pull up, then you need to find a set of clippers/loppers with long handles. If you can reach in to the stem of the plant with the clippers, cut it off right above the ground and then you can then dig up the roots and be rid of the plant. If the stem of the plant is too thick for your clippers, then you can remove branches at the base of the plant using the long-handled clippers. Once you have removed enough of them to safely reach the stem/trunk, you can cut it down with an axe and then dig up the roots. After you've removed the larger plants, it should be easier to control the smaller ones as they reappear (and they will). You will need to be vigilant.

After you've finished chopping them all down and you are rubbing your sore muscles, you might like to read Devil's Club (Oplopanax horridus): An Ethnobotanical Review to find how local indigenous people and modern day herbalists have used the plant to treat a large variety of ailments.

You might also like to get a "second opinion" from the Plant Answer Line of the Elisabeth C. Miller Library of the Univeristy of Washington Botanic Gardens in Seattle who have probably had a bit more hands-on (ouch!) experience with devil's club than Mr. Smarty Plants has.

 


Oplopanax horridus

Oplopanax horridus

Oplopanax horridus

 

 

 

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