Plant Profile: Devil’s Walking Stick, Aralia Spinosa
|Figure 1. Aralia spinosa, devil's walking stick;|
note the compound leaves and terminal flower
arrangement. Photo credit: Gil Nelson.
This post is one of a series from professor Nisse Goldberg's Botany students at Jacksonville University.
Specific epithet: spinosa
Aralia spinosa, Devil’s walking stick, is the only Aralia species in Florida (Figure 1) and is an aromatic spiny shrub/small tree of the Ginseng or Araliaceae family. You can find this plant in the northern and central counties of the state, and in moist soils that are partially shaded by a canopy, where it typically grows between 12 and 15 feet high.
|Figure 2. A. spinosa with notable prickles.|
Photo credit: Shirley Denton.
|Figure 3. Drupes of devil's walking stick.|
Photo credit: Virginia Ducey.
As with other members of the Ginseng family, this species has medicinal properties. It has been used to treat tooth aches, fever, and snakebites, among other ailments. In the Victorian era, A. spinosa was planted as a novelty for its tropical foliage and prickly stems.
• Wunderlin, R. P., and B. F. Hansen. 2008. Atlas of Florida Vascular Plants (http://www.plantatlas.usf.edu/). [S. M. Landry and K. N. Campbell (application development), Florida Center for Community Design and Research.] Institute for Systematic Botany, University of South Florida, Tampa.
Figure 1. http://florida.plantatlas.usf.edu/Photo.aspx?id=104
Figure 2. http://florida.plantatlas.usf.edu/Photo.aspx?id=4964
Figure 3. http://florida.plantatlas.usf.edu/Photo.aspx?id=3245