En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

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.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

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

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Monday - October 12, 2009

From: Lathrup Village, MI
Region: Midwest
Topic: Trees
Title: Identity of Hercules Club from Lathrup Village MI
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Thought the shrub was Hercules Club but when looked at photo on line, totally different leaf. Mine has palmate leaf rounded at the tips, spines that are short but substantial. Branches arch somewhat and summer color is medium to dark green hinted towards blue. Had a client from Yorkshire who told me it was Hercules Club and used it as natural fence/thicket.

ANSWER:

Common names often make Mr. Smarty Plant cross-eyed. Both Aralia spinosa (devil's walkingstick) and Zanthoxylum clava-herculis (Hercules' club) are native to North America but neither is native to Michigan. Zanthoxylum clava-herculis, in addition to Hercules Club, has the common names of toothache tree and tingle tongue. It grows in Texas and to the East Coast as far north as Virginia. Aralia spinos, in addition to Devil's walking stick, has the common names of Prickly Ash and Prickly Elder. Sometimes it also referred to as the "toothache tree," but apparently does not share with Zanthoxylum clava-herculis  the trait of numbing the mouth when the leaves are chewed. It is native from Texas to Maine.

As you can see from the pictures below, from our Image Gallery, neither plant has palmate leaves. If the person who identified your plant as Hercules Club was from Yorkshire, England she may have been referring to yet another tree bearing that common name, growing in England but not native to North America, and therefore not in our Native Plant Database. We did search on Google on the common name, but the only results were the two listed above.  If you would like for us to try to identify your tree, go to the Mr. Smarty Plants Plant Identification page, and follow the instructions to submit pictures and information, and we will attempt to figure out what it is.


Aralia spinosa

Aralia spinosa

Zanthoxylum clava-herculis

Zanthoxylum clava-herculis

 

 

More Trees Questions

Trees non-toxic for horses in California
May 02, 2011 - I would like to plant next to my pasture. Please send a good variety of nontoxic (for horses) plants for shade. I live in Redding Cal.
view the full question and answer

Problems with Mexican Olive tree from Edinburg TX
October 06, 2013 - My Mexican olive (anacahuita) shows no obvious signs of pest or disease, but over the last years has more and more dead limbs and smaller and smaller leaves. It's in a yard with a sprinkler system t...
view the full question and answer

Transplant shock in Chestnut Oak in Waukesha WI
September 13, 2009 - Bought and had nursery install a 4" diameter, 16' tall chestnut oak. Watered it as instructed-every 2nd or third day-hose stream size of my pinky for 45-60 minutes. It was planted in July. Just l...
view the full question and answer

Problem with Arizona Ash in Leander TX
March 10, 2011 - What would make my otherwise healthy Arizona Ash tree, that was doing so well last year, only bud out on just one side?
view the full question and answer

Are magnolia trees toxic for dogs?
February 05, 2014 - Del Mar, California- are magnolia trees, (their bark, roots, pods) toxic to small dogs? My Westie terriers are exhibiting lack of appetite and diarrea this late winter. Tonight I saw on our local n...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center