Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center - The University of Texas at Austin information

 Native Plant Database

Aralia spinosa

Devil's walking stick, Hercules club, Angelica tree, Pigeon tree, Shotbush, Prickly elder, Prickly ash

Araliaceae (Ginseng Family)

Aralia spinosa (Devil's walking stick)
Cox, Paul
A large, few-stemmed shrub,12-15 ft., can reach 20 ft. Each spring it shoots up a tall stem covered with orange prickles. Enormous, divided, spiny leaves at the top of the stem can be 3-4 ft. long and just as wide. Topping the umbrella of leaves are 1-4 ft. tall clusters of whitish flowers. Black fruits on bright pink fruiting stalks crown the plant in fall.

Image Gallery:

14 photo(s) available

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Tree
Root Type: Tap
Leaf Retention: Deciduous
Leaf Arrangement: Alternate
Leaf Complexity: Bipinnate , Tripinnate
Leaf Shape: Ovate
Leaf Margin: Serrate
Fruit Type: Drupe
Leaf: Alternate, doubly or triply pinnately compound, with very numerous leaflets; leaflets ovate to lance-ovate, pointed at the tip, tapering or rounded at the base, coarsely toothed, usually with a few prickles on the veins or the lower surface of the leaves, up to 3 inches long, up to 1 1/2 inches wide.
Autumn Foliage: yes
Flower: Numerous in many umbrella-shaped clusters; each flower borne on a purple, hairy stalk.
Fruit: Drupes spherical to ovoid, black-purple, up to 1/4 inch long.
Size Class: 12-36 ft.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: White
Bloom Time: Jun , Jul , Aug , Sep


USA: AL , AR , CT , DE , FL , GA , IL , IN , KY , LA , ME , MD , MA , MS , MO , NJ , NY , NC , OH , OK , PA , RI , SC , TN , TX , VA , WV , DC
Native Distribution: FL to e. TX, n. to NY & Ohio R. valley; naturalized northward
Native Habitat: Open woods; thickets; flood plains; rocky pastures

Growing Conditions

Water Use: High
Light Requirement: Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist
CaCO3 Tolerance: High
Soil Description: Moist, well-drained, fertile to poor soils. pH tolerant. Sandy Loam, Medium Loam, Clay Loam.
Conditions Comments: Colonizes freely by rhizomes and suckers. These can be dug out, but A. spinosa is still far too aggressive for small spaces. A pioneering species in the wild, this plant often disappears as the forest develops around it.


Use Ornamental: Showy, Attractive, Fall conspicuous, Fast growing, Accent tree or shrub. Occasionally planted in the Victorian era as a grotesque ornamental.
Use Wildlife: Seeds are favored by birds; leaves are browsed by deer. Nectar-insects, Nectar-butterflies, Nectar-bees, Browse, Fruit-birds
Use Medicinal: The aromatic spicy roots and fruit were used by early settlers in home remedies, including a cure for toothaches.
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Attracts: Birds

Last Update: 2015-11-13