Devil's Club

Discussion in 'Plants: Nomenclature and Taxonomy' started by Daniel Mosquin, Jan 8, 2003.

  1. Daniel Mosquin

    Daniel Mosquin Paragon of Plants UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    The following was received via email:

    I am interested in Devil's Club. It sounds like a great plant for a native garden. I keep finding Oplopanax horridus and then Oplopanax horridum both referrred to Alaskan Ginseng. I'm confused and my Latin is exactly what it used to be, non-existent. Are they the same plant?
     
  2. Daniel Mosquin

    Daniel Mosquin Paragon of Plants UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    The correct scientific name is Oplopanax horridus (you could also include the author who originally published a description of the plant, in this case, Miq.).

    Loosely translated, it means prickly or rough (horridus) armoured (oplo-) panax. Panax taken by itself means all- (pan-) heal (-ax) and refers to ginseng.

    The healing element is reflected in its ethnobotany, for which I'd refer you to "Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast" by Pojar & MacKinnon as a source of information.

    In British Columbia and elsewhere, this plant is most commonly known as devil's club. However, Alaskan ginseng is also used as a common name for this plant (and it is indeed found in Alaska and a member of the ginseng family). I personally call it hiker's bane "because of its diabolical spines" as it is sublimely stated in the above book and personal experience.

    As for the horticultural value of the plant in a garden landscape, I'll have to defer to someone else.

    Kind regards,
    Daniel
     
  3. Unusually dramatic and tropical-looking for a native plant, as is skunk cabbage - another plant whose ornamental attributes are utilized despite it having a certain unpleasant characteristic. I wouldn't pass on the large leaves and red fruit clusters of Oplopanax just because if you happen to grab or brush against the stem it could be nasty.
     
  4. marshallmcm

    marshallmcm Member

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    Devil's club distribution

    Hi everyone.
    I'm doing a research project on "some aspect of the Pacific Northwest." I was hoping to choose devil's club as an interesting topic, but I can't find any specific informatin on its distribution. Is it specific to the Pacific Northwest, or does it just grow everywhere?
    Thank you,
    Marshall.
     
  5. Harry Hill

    Harry Hill Member

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  6. sugarandspurs23

    sugarandspurs23 Member

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    I am looking for the devils club plant in Alberta where can I find it?
    Also is it connected at all to devils claw?
     
  7. timbercheap

    timbercheap Member

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    If you want to find it in its biome-
    Devil's Club (Oplopanax horridus) can be found in northwestern Alberta in the boreal forest on sites that exhibit thin rich well drained soils and significant seepage inputs ( e.g. stream edges, riparian areas and avalanche tracts). Its best to wear long sleeves and tough gloves when handling this plant as it gets its name from the numerous spines which grow on its stem. Incidentally, its berries are a favorite forage for black and grizzly bears shortly after emerging from their dens.

    If I have the right plant you are thinking of Devil's claw (Acacia gregii) - that plant is a member of the pea family, whereas Oplopanax is a woody shrub.
     
  8. fourd

    fourd Active Member 10 Years

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    I suggest one might use it to discourage use of particular trails. I remember this plant as a child, perhaps my first recognisable plant ... as being quite painfull. When I (we) would come across it hikeing, we would walk ever so calculating and carefully, but more then likely we would not even take any chances with it and look for another route. Grab on to this plant just once and you'll remember it for the rest of your life, at least I do!
     
  9. fourd

    fourd Active Member 10 Years

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    1) Devil's claw = Harpagophytum procumbens AKA grapple plant and wood spider and is used to treat degenerative disorders and is from Africa.

    2) Devil's claw = Proboscidea louisianica AKA Unicorn plant, Aphid Trap, and Ram's Horn from Africa.

    3) Devil's claw = Acacia greggii (two g) AKA catclaw is a US Southwest desert plant.

    Any others?
     
  10. sugarandspurs23

    sugarandspurs23 Member

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    Where did u come across this plant?
     
  11. sugarandspurs23

    sugarandspurs23 Member

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    I am interested in the loction in Alberta do u know exactly where it might grow?
    Slave Lake may be the closest to me but I am located in Calgary. Would local stores have the plant or does it have to be ordered? This seems like a plant that may be hard to find.
     
  12. timbercheap

    timbercheap Member

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    Sounds like a good excuse to go on a field trip. You can probably find this plant in the forests around Creston/ Cranbrook on the BC side of the Rockies - check out this URL http://www.for.gov.bc.ca/hfd/pubs/docs/Bro/bro48.pdf. I can't offer any suggestions as to the nursery sources.

    Otherwise head up into the forests of northern Alberta, find a stream and go for a hike. Alternately, talk to one of the company foresters at Hinton or Grande Prairie e.g. Weyerhaeuser, Canfor. They will know of specific locations.
     
  13. fourd

    fourd Active Member 10 Years

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    The Olympic mountains, Hoh and Quinaunt Rainforests, Washington state.
     
  14. I was impressed with your knowledge of devil's club and would appreciate your input:

    I live in Juneau, Alaska and manage a storage complex that is adjacent to a salmon spawning stream. As a business we are very careful with our snow plowing, etc. so as not to disturb the steam's bank and natural vegitation. We are looking into fencing the project and have decided instead to plant devil's club and Sitka rose along the bank to deter people from entering the area. Sitka rose is a hardy plant and transplants easily but I'm not as well versed with devil's club. People don't seem to be as anxious to tranplant this thorny monster.

    I've been told that fall is the best time to transplant because of dormency. It's been suggested to cut branches back, as you would a rose plant, for better handling and it sounds like the root ball is difficult to remove from the earth since the roots go so deep. Is there a better way? If you were to cut off a branch and transplant it would grow with the proper care? I look forward to your reply and anyone elses suggestions.
    JSS
     
  15. timbercheap

    timbercheap Member

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    Sorry, I can't offer any strategies for transplanting as I have never tried it. However, I have seen the plant severely damaged by bears foraging for its berries and the plant grew fine the next year, so it appears to be fairly hardy in terms of being distressed. I also have never seen evidence of this plant being able to propagate via cuttings. It is spread through the wild via animal and bird scat.
     
  16. douglas

    douglas Active Member 10 Years

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    Hi
    As kids in Scouts we used to camp in the Skagit Valley /bettween Hope and Chilliwack and use the leaves as covering for our lean toos.

    The roots can be trasplanted much like a rhubarb.

    The story we heard of the name of Devils Club
    Is that it is derived from the big nasty thorns on the stocks

    Regards Doug
     
  17. I would like to propagate Devil's Club from seed, but I'm not sure if each individual berry is one seed, or if there are multiple tiny seeds within. When I open up one ripe berry, it's just yellow much inside, so I'm guessing each berry is a single seed. Since I don't have a bear to run the berries through, and even if I did I don't know that I'd want to use that method to pre-process the seeds, is there an alternative method?

    Also, I've found reference that says you can sow directly when ripe, but it seems to me if I plant the ripe berries even slightly under the soil, wouldn't they just rot?

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

    Mark
     
  18. Eric La Fountaine

    Eric La Fountaine Contributor UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Info on the Web states that germination rates of Oplopanax horridus are very low, one test revealed germination rates at <1%. The plant generally spreads vegetatively in the wild to form clumps (from reading, I have not even seen the plant in the wild). Apparently passing through the gut of a bear or bird does not affect germination rates.

    This protocol from Glacier National Park should help:
    http://www.nativeplantnetwork.org/network/view.asp?protocol_id=9,10
     
  19. NiftyNiall

    NiftyNiall Active Member 10 Years

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    Devils club, can be moved preferably when dormant, it has extensive root system, try to get as much as possible. Some of the plant will die back usually, but it will resprout from the base. It is very difficult from cuttings. Young seedlings up to about 12" tall will move easily. The most important thing to do is make sure that you mimic the MOIST,medium nitrogen, and rich in organic matter, shady conditions that it grows in. Seeds will grow,but have a poor germination rate, but they are hard to find at a mature state because the bears and other wildlife relish them when ripe. I have salvaged many through the years, the prickles when they enter your skin, usually leave behind a very small reminder, that you have violated it's space, and they typically create a small infection at the site. The leaves smell like gin when crushed, carefully.
     
  20. karolis

    karolis New Member

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    Devil's club are very poisonous. Don't eat leaves or stems, thorns. It also can change insulin work in the body for whose who are sick with diabetes.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 16, 2018

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