Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
Southern Wetland Flora
Field Office Guide to Plant Species
Aralia spinosa L.
- Family: Aralia (Araliaceae)
- Flowering: June-September
- Field Marks: This tree is readily recognized by its prickly stems, huge doubly-compound leaves,
and large heads of white flowers and purple drupes.
- Habitat: Low and moist woodlands, thickets, bluffs, bottomlands, steep ravines, hammocks.
- Habit: Tree to 30 feet tall; trunk diameter up to 6 inches; crown widely spreading; underground
runners often formed.
- Bark: Gray to dark brown, smooth except for short, hard prickles.
- Twigs: Stout, pale brown or gray, smooth except for the short, hard prickles.
- Leaves: 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.
- Flowers: Numerous in many umbrella-shaped clusters; each flower borne on a purple, hairy
- Sepals: 5, very small, united at the base.
- Petals: 5, white, free from each other, about 1/8 inch long.
- Stamens: 5.
- Pistils: Ovary inferior; styles usually 5, united at the base.
- Fruits: Drupes spherical to ovoid, black-purple, up to 1/4 inch long.
- Notes: This species is also known as devil's walking-stick. The berries are a delight to cedar
waxwings. The underground runners are responsible for several stems usually found growing
very close together.
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