En EspaŅol
Aralia spinosa (Devil's walkingstick) | NPIN

NPIN: Native Plant Database

Search for native plants by scientific name, common name or family. If you are not sure what you are looking for, try the Combination Search or our Recommended Species lists.

Search native plant database:
See a list of all Plants

Aralia spinosa (Devil's walkingstick)
Bloodworth, Stefan

Aralia spinosa

Aralia spinosa L.

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

Araliaceae (Ginseng Family)


USDA Symbol: ARSP2

USDA Native Status: L48 (N)

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.


Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Tree
Root Type: Tap
Leaf Complexity: Bipinnate
Leaf: Green
Autumn Foliage: yes
Fruit: Black 1/2 inch
Size Class: 12-36 ft.

Bloom Information

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


USA: AL , AR , CT , DC , DE , FL , GA , IL , IN , KY , LA , MA , MD , ME , MO , MS , NC , NJ , NY , OH , OK , PA , RI , SC , TN , TX , VA , WV
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


Description: Use one of the following methods for propagation: fresh seed sown in fall or stratified seed sown in spring; dormant root cuttings stored in cool, damp sand until spring; and/or transplanting of suckers.
Seed Collection: Seed is mature when outer covering of nutlet is hard and brittle. This may be before the fruit pulp has darkened. Clean seeds immediately to avoid fermentation. Plant or stratify immediately.
Seed Treatment: Stratification is for 30-60 days at 41 degrees.
Commercially Avail: yes

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:

Pineywoods Native Plant Center - Nacogdoches, TX
Crosby Arboretum - Picayune, MS
Natural Biodiversity - Johnstown, PA


Bibref 1620 - Gardening with Native Plants of the South (Reprint Edition) (2009) Wasowski, S. with A. Wasowski
Bibref 841 - Native Alternatives to Invasive Plants (2006) Burrell, C. C.
Bibref 318 - Native Texas Plants: Landscaping Region by Region (2002) Wasowski, S. & A. Wasowski
Bibref 291 - Texas Wildscapes: Gardening for Wildlife (1999) Damude, N. & K.C. Bender

Search More Titles in Bibliography

Recommended Species Lists

Find native plant species by state. Each list contains commercially available species suitable for gardens and planned landscapes. Once you have selected a collection, you can browse the collection or search within it using the combination search.

View Recommended Species page

Additional resources

USDA: Find Aralia spinosa in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Aralia spinosa in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Aralia spinosa


Record Modified: 2013-09-07
Research By: TWC Staff

Go back

© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center