Aralia spinosa

Common Names: Devil's walkingstick, Angelica-tree, Hercules' club, prickly ash, prickly elder
Category: Trees
Sub-category: Ivy family

The various names refer to the viciously sharp, spiny stems, petioles, and even leaf midribs. it is an aromatic spiny deciduous shrub or small tree growing 2 to 8 m tall, with a simple or occasionally branched stem with very large bipinnate leaves 70 to 120 cm long. The trunks are up to 15 to 20 cm in diameter, with the plants umbrella-like in habit with open crowns. The young stems are stout and thickly covered with sharp spines. The plants generally grow in clusters of branchless trunks, although stout wide-spreading branches are occasionally produced. The flowers are creamy-white, individually small (about 5 mm across) but produced in large composite panicles 30 to 60 cm long; flowering in the late summer. The fruit is a purplish-black berry 6 to 8 mm in diameter, ripening in the fall. The roots are thick and fleshy. The doubly or triply compound leaves are the largest of any temperate tree in the continental United States, often about a meter long and 60 cm wide, with leaflets about 5 to 8 cm long. The petioles are prickly, with swollen bases. In the autumn the leaves turn to a peculiar bronze red touched with yellow which makes the tree conspicuous and attractive.

Edible Notes: The young leaves can be eaten if gathered before the prickles harden. They are then chopped finely and cooked as a potherb.
Warnings: It has many sharp thorns which are capable of inflicting injury.