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

 Native Plant Database

Aralia spinosa

Devil's walkingstick, Devil's walking-stick, Prickly Ash, Hercules club, Angelica tree

Araliaceae (Ginseng Family)

Aralia spinosa (Devil's walkingstick)
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: 2015-08-05