questions about devil's walking stick

cydonia33(7a)

Hello.

I have 3 baby aralia spinosas growing in my backyard. I think these plants are beautiful and I am letting them grow up--- the birds love their berries, and I love how they remind me of the forest surrounding the Wissahickon Gorge (I live a stone's throw away from the Gorge). If anyone is at all familiar with this plant, can you please let me know how fast they grow, and how long I can expect to wait before the plant has flowers/berries. Thanks!

Jenny

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steve_nj(7-a)

With abundant water and fertilizer, expect berries in a couple of years.

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janet_e(6B PA)

Jenny -- I'm in Philadelphia, too. Unfortunately, the aralias in Philadelphia are non-native Aralia elata, not the native spinosa. We are actually just north of the range for spinosa. A botanist from the Brooklyn Botanical Garden has studied the aralias in our area, and he assured me that every plant he has examined in Pennsylvania turned out to be elata, though he started seeing spinosa in Delaware.

Sadly, the Wissahickon area of Philadelphia is a hotspot for garden escapes and other non-native plants. Have you noticed all the double-file Viburnums that bloom so nicely in the spring? And the Japanese maples in the understory?

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jillmcm(z6 PA)

You're kidding, Janet! I too have aralias that I assumed were spinosa (and I'm very close to Delaware...) How can you tell the difference? I let one grow this spring and trying to get it out now will be a bear of a task, so I want to be sure before I tackle the thorny mess. I was looking forward to having a thicket of them, frankly.

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carol23_gw(7a western NC)

That's very strange since the USDA site shows it up through New England.

Here is a link that might be useful: Aralia spinosa

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janet_e(6B PA)

How to tell Aralia spinosa from A. elata (from "Plants of Pennsylvania" by Ann Rhoads and Timothy Block):

A. spinosa has an "inflorescence with a distinct central axis," that is, one main stalk to the flower cluster. With elata, "central axis of the inflorescence very short or lacking" and the inflorescence has 3-8 spreading secondary branches.

On spinosa leaves, the veins of the leaflets do not run to the teeth; on elata, they do. Spinosa leaflets have a definite petiole, elata leaflets are sessile or nearly so.

Carol, I did make a mistake about the range of A. spinosa. According to Gleason and Cronquist's "Manual of Vascular Plants," the native range for spinosa is Delaware to south Indiana and Missouri, south to Florida and Texas. However, it is also introduced to New York, southern New England, and Michigan. "Plants of Pennsylvania" says spinosa is occaisional in the state, mostly in the western part.

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cydonia33(7a)

Oh, darn. Now I can add another plant to the list of weeds that marr the beauty of the Wissahickon. Are there any native species left in the "wild" parts of Philly? Well, I am going to make sure before I pull this one out of the ground; since there are no flowers yet I will have to see if the veins of the leaves run to the teeth. I really love this plant, so I am crossing my fingers and hoping for a spinosa. Well, if it is not a spinosa, I can always order the seeds from a reliable source. Thanks.

Jenny

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jillmcm(z6 PA)

Janet, thanks for the info, I'm off to check the leaves!

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janet_e(6B PA)

Jenny, there are still native plants within Philadelphia. The Wissahickon is good for ferns, including some interesting species like Cystopteris tennesseensis and Woodsia obtusa. I've even found Goldie's fern, though that may be a remant from an old nursery. The canopy layer is still mostly native trees, and some places still have spring ephemerals.

Roosevelt Park in south Philadelphia has some gems. The Philadelphia Botanical Club recently went there to look at the plants growing at the edges of ponds. There was surprising diversity of native species, and a few rare species -- not what you would expect when you first look at the park, given that it is mostly lawns, ballfields, and planted trees.

Here is a link that might be useful: Philadelphia Botanical Club

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jillmcm(z6 PA)

Alas, according to the information above, my aralia is elata. Drat. I was so looking forward to a thicket of them, and now I have to try taking out an 8' tall spiny specimen.

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markusa(8b)

I transplanted a few Aralias from a grove that was going to be leveled for a subdivision. The trunks were about1-1.5 inches thick. I cut one of them back to only 6 inches tall and in one year it grew about 6-7 feet. It has actually done the best out of all I planted. The other two I left about 6 feet tall and they each grew about about 2 feet in a year. The trunks are 2-3 inches thick now. All three flowered and berried the 2nd season after transplanting. They like some dappled shade and good drainage. It might just be because I live in south texas near Houston. Where you live they might like the full sun. I planted 2 in full sun and they died on me. I hope this helps

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botanicalwonders_hotmail_com

Jenny:

My aunt and uncle had one growing in their yard in Terryville Connecticut. They lived on the top of a hill with and open exposure, I would consider it a cold spot for sure.

The small tree was about 18 feet high and looked alot like the Frangipany we have here in Florida except the stem was much thicker and the branches and truck were covered with spines. The tree of coarse was deciduous but in the spring the flowers were lovely.

Thanks for bringing up the topic it opened up fond memories for me, thanks.

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cydonia33(7a)

I have to admit that I am letting the aralia elata continue to grow although it is not native. The only difference between it and the native is that the leaves and the flower pannicles are sessile in the japanese version. I only have two plants and they have gotten SOOOO big I am hoping for flowers/berries. I DO try to be a native purest, but I must confess, I am illogically enamored with this plant... Oh, well...

Jenny

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ahughes798(z5 IL)

Hopefully its berries and seeds will not be spread to areas where it's a real problem that pushes out native plants.

I'm illogically enamored of butterfly bush...but I don't grow it.

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cydonia33(7a)

O.K. well, I've decided to "do the right thing" and eradicate my pseudo-Devil's Walking Stick. But now I need a replacement. Something that is not too tall (6-8 feet) tall, and skinny, not wide (no more than 5 or 6 feet wide). Wildlife value is IMPORTANT: berries for birds is a must, nectar or host for butterflies would be nice, but not necessary... If nobody responds, I will post a separate thread, but will give it a couple days... Thanks.

Jenny

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janet_e(6B PA)

Viburnums would do the trick. Viburnum nudum, V. lentago, and V. prunifolium are all fairly skinny. All of them have berries. V. nudum and lentago are particularly handsome: nice, glossy leaves and excellent fall color. On V. nudum, the berries are quite ornamental, starting green, going through pink, then blue, then blue-black.

Eventually these viburnums would get taller than 6-8 feet, but they could be pruned back -- their growth rate is moderate, so pruning once a year should be enough.

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bob64(6)

At the property I help tend in Westchester County, New York devil's walking stick has reached the point where it is invasive. I am not sure if if is the native form or not but I suspect it is not.

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lrobins(z5 CO)

On geographic range of Aralia spinosa: as I mentioned in another post, the USDA plants database is a useful resource for plant geography questions. Perhaps they're mistaken, but USDA shows that Aralia spinosa is native throughout much of Pennsylvania including Philadelphia / southeastern region.

http://plants.usda.gov/java/county?state_name=Pennsylvania&statefips=42&symbol=ARSP2

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cydonia33(7a)

Honestly, I just checked out the USDA website and it looks to me as if the pics that they have that are supposedly of a. spinosa are actually of a. elata... Am I wrong??

Jenny

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yarthkin(6-7a)

RE: "O.K. well, I've decided to "do the right thing" and eradicate my pseudo-Devil's Walking Stick. But now I need a replacement..."

How about staghorn sumac? Nice fall color, short, berries (can be used for "lemonade")... Or, perhaps an American Mountain Ash?

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cydonia33(7a)

I do have staghorn sumac in one sunnier area of my yard... Perhaps I could relocate it... Maybe it won't be as aggressive if it is in a shadier location... I already have a few viburnums in my yard... don't think I need anymore of those! LOL.
I will check out the American Montain Ash. Thanks for the suggestions.

I realize now that the pic at the USDA website IS of A. spinosa. The non-native and the native are SO MUCH ALIKE, it is confusing sometimes (like when you've had a couple of beers)!

Jenny

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lrobins(z5 CO)

Also, did you notice that, while the popular name of A. spinosa is Devil's walking stick, the popular name of A. elata is Angelica tree?? As we've established here, the two are difficult to tell apart. We should be able to do something with that. How renaming the A. elata as "Devil-in-disguise tree"?

On a possibly more useful note, another small flowering shrub with wildlife benefit is Aronia melanocarpa (or Photinia melanocarpa), black chokeberry. The berries are less bitter than the taller red chokeberry; in fact, cultivars are grown commercially for the juice. I believe that the commercial cultivation is mainly in Europe (rather than eastern US where the plant is native).

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rika

My name is Rika,
I am looking for the devil's walking stick huge leaf. I collected one in the mountain in near Seattle.
I am an artist, and my subject of art is collection of nature. I would like to ask someone who can send some leaves, please responce to me. I am also showing my art many galleries and some museum. I will contribute for your help. Thank you very much.

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wrv_info_rhd_org

I saw the Wissahickon mentioned. I work for the Wissahickon Restoration Volunteers and if anyone is interested in going out into the forest to help the native plants and remove invasives, please contact me at wrv.info@rhd.org! Devil's walking stick is one of the species we're trying to eradicate as it chokes out the native plants in the area.

I was interested in finding out the distinction between spinosa and elata, because I believe we've only encountered elata, but I wanted to make sure. Thanks for the help!

Here is a link that might be useful: Wissahickon Restoration Volunteers

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amelanchier(NY)

Devil's walking stick IS native in your area!

Here is a link that might be useful: USDA Plants: Aralia spinosa PA distribution

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amelanchier(NY)

Sorry, I thought you were referring to spinosa, but I see the last paragraph indicates you must have meant elata! So never mind. :) (I wish you could delete your own messages here.)

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gerryld

Does the branches fall off this tree every year. I thought I had one. It is very prickly and spiny but every fall all the branches fall off it and regenerate in the spring. Any ideas?

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Thyme2dig NH Zone 5

this is a very interesting thread. i am in NH and i guess i always assumed i had aralia spinosa. after reading all of the above information about elata, i compared my shrub to the information from Janet above. guess what? i DO have aralia spinosa! no doubt about it. everything above matches.
A. spinosa has an "inflorescence with a distinct central axis," that is, one main stalk to the flower cluster (YES). With elata, "central axis of the inflorescence very short or lacking" and the inflorescence has 3-8 spreading secondary branches (NO).
On spinosa leaves, the veins of the leaflets do not run to the teeth(YES); on elata, they do (NO). Spinosa leaflets have a definite petiole (YES, about 4" on mine), elata leaflets are sessile or nearly so (NO).

thank you so much for posting this information so that i could confirm that it is the native variety.

gerryld, if i recall, the branches do seem to all fall off over the winter. i never noticed the shrub until last year when it flowered and had outstanding berries. the birds went crazy. mine is also not really not suckering too much.

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awj5000_mchsi_com

I was in the woods yesterday and came across this plant. I accidentally pushed it out of the way and got at least 4 needles in my left middle finger. I removed them, but find no relief from the extreme pain. My finger is also very swollen. Is the plant poisonous, if so, what treatmeant is required, or could I have just left one or two of them still in my finger.

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fredwinchester

What appears to me s that the spinosa leaves are narrower and not as deeply serrated. Acordung to USF, they can propagate by root or seed. Just had one volunteer in the middle of my driveway. Thanks for all the help.


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wisconsitom(Zone 4/5)

Just a comment about USDA Plants Database: A great resource-no doubt. I go there almost every day for something or other. That said, if they have committed errors, they are errors of omission. That is, I don't find the database points to plant species being where they aren't. But they will miss areas where the plant is absolutely growing. I myself have written a couple or three times with updated range information. This could be one such case.

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gardenfullofswallowtails(z7A DE)

Always ran into aralia spinosa when I was a kid. They just had the thorns on them. Never saw the bloom on them. From pictures, they look beautiful.

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