Content Detail

This unusual U.S. native has a very exotic look, with large, compound leaves and late summer flowers. Devil’s walking stick has coarse, thorny stems.

  • Family (English) Ginseng
  • Family (botanic) Araliaceae
  • Tree or plant type Tree, Shrub
  • Foliage Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
  • Native locale Illinois, North America
  • Size range Small tree (15-25 feet), Medium tree (25-40 feet)
  • Light exposure Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily), Partial sun / shade (4-6 hrs light daily)
  • Hardiness zones Zone 4, Zone 5 (Northern Illinois), Zone 6 (City of Chicago), Zone 7, Zone 8, Zone 9
  • Soil preference Acid soil, Moist, well-drained soil
  • Tolerances Alkaline soil, clay soil, Dry sites, Occasional drought
  • Season of interest midsummer, late summer
  • Flower color and fragrance White
  • Shape or form Multi-stemmed, Thicket-forming, Upright
  • Growth rate Fast, Moderate

Size and form:

An upright native that grows 10 to 20 feet high, with potential to grow up to 30 feet, and 10 to 20 feet or more wide. It is thicket forming.

Native geographic location and habitat:

Native to the southern United States and up into the Midwest.

Bark color and texture:

This plant is coarse-textured, lightly branched, and has spiny stems.

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture:

The dark green 2 to 4 feet long, double compound leaves have small thorns and numerous leaflets.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size:

The mid to late summer small, white flowers appear in large, flattened clusters that can grow up to 1 1/2 feet wide.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions:

Broad clusters of small dark purple berry-like fruit (drupes).

Plant care:

Note that this plant can spread indefinitely.  It is typically growing as understory or at wood edge in large thickets. Prune out shoots to maintain the spread of the plant within desired size. Tolerant of most sites, best in full sun to light shade under tall trees.

List of pests, diseases and tolerances:

There aren’t any serious disease or insect problems. Sucker growth can get out of control. This plant is pH adaptable as well as urban tolerant. It is tolerant of black walnut toxicity.


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