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Rose Breasted Grosbeaks Feast on Devil's Walking Stick Berries

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Rose Breasted Grosbeaks and many other birds will feast on an early Autumn bounty of ripe dark purple berries of the Devil's Walking Stick. I have a nice large cluster of these amazing trees in the North Carolina Backyard. They are native plants and quite beneficial although they often establish in newly disturbed areas leading people to falsely believe they are some kind of exotic invasive, but no they are native plants and well known to the Cherokee (http://naeb.brit.org/uses/search/?string=Aralia+spinosa). They would make a welcome addition to an eastern US Backyard and quite a conversation piece as they are rarely seen by people in the wild. Birds spread their seeds far and wide.

Aralia spinosa, commonly called devil’s walking stick or Hercules club, gets its common name from the stout, sharp spines found on its leaf stalks, stems and branches. This is a large, upright, suckering, deciduous shrub that typically grows to 10-15’ tall, but infrequently grows as a small flat topped tree to as much as 35’ tall. In its native range in the eastern U.S., it is commonly found in wood margins, fields and pastures. It has interesting compound foliage, late summer flowers, juicy black fruit and spiny stems give this shrub distinctive and unique ornamental interest. Sparse, upright, mostly unbranched, club-like branches, ringed with conspicuous leaf scars and spines, are typically naked at the bottom but crowned at the top by umbrella-like canopies of huge compound leaves

It has stiff branches at right angles and huge, compound leaves that are the largest in North America. New foliage is bronze changing from yellow to red-orange in the fall. This plant is easy to transplant and makes an excellent addition to a pollinator garden.
The bark is gray-brown with persisting prickles and shallow furrows.

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