Nov 10 2009
I thought I’d missed my chance when I didn’t write about this plant on Halloween – more on that later – but Chuck Tague’s recent blog on tree buds gives me the perfect opportunity to discuss this scary looking plant.
Compared to the beautiful twigs Chuck photographed this one looks positively wicked. So what is it? Here are some hints.
- This bud is as fat as your thumb and covered in thorns.
- It grows on a tree that’s only 5 to 15 feet tall.
- The trunk is very thorny too and only 1 to 4 inches in diameter.
- The bud will sprout very large twice- or thrice-compound leaves that are 2 to 4 feet long!
- The flower is one huge flat-topped cluster that blooms July to September.
- Its fleshy, black fruit droops from the top of the tree. The berries are such good food for birds that when you find a stand of these trees in autumn you’ll find a flock of robins, too.
- The name of this tree evokes Halloween.
And it is… (drum roll) … Devil’s Walking Stick (Aralia spinosa), also called Hercules-club. The trunk is so narrow it resembles a walking stick but only the Devil would dare grasp it.
Want to look at pretty buds now? Check out This Bud’s for You.
(photo by Dianne Machesney)