This post is one of a series from professor Nisse Goldberg's Botany students at Jacksonville University.
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.
Lean against the thin trunk of Devil's walking stick and you'll quickly figure out where the plant's name comes from. The stems are armed up and down with exceptionally sharp spines, hence spinosa (Figure 2). To add insult to injury, the petioles and surfaces of the pinnately-compound leaves, which can be 3 feet long and equally wide, are covered in pointe…