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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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Monday - May 09, 2011

From: Pensacola, FL
Region: Southeast
Topic: Plant Identification
Title: Mystery small tree with many large thorns
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

In a small spot on over 2 acres, we have this strange tree/shrub. It is a single, straight stem with no branches, and has profuse, large thorns from top to bottom. At the top of the stem, the leaves grow out in the shape of an umbrella. In the winter, it looks like a brown, dead stick. In the spring/summer, new growth is green with the leaves at the top. Some are 15 feet tall or taller.

ANSWER:

This sounds a lot like Aralia spinosa (Devil's walkingstick).  It certainly qualifies in its very thorny straight stem with the new spring leaves occurring at the top of the stem looking umbrella-like.  Here are some more photos from Duke University and information from Floridata.


Aralia spinosa


Aralia spinosa


Aralia spinosa

 

 

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