About 5 or 6 years ago I went to a GNPS workday at a restoration site and one of the leaders brought some free plants to give away. I took a tiny, 4-inch woody plant known as devil’s walkingstick (Aralia spinosa). People warned me not to take it but I knew that it would be beautiful and perfect for the tropical feel around our swimming pool.
|Aralia spinosa flowers at terminal ends|
Once pollinated, each flower turns into a small purple berry – a feast for the birds. You can see a picture of the berries here. Its bi-pinnately (twice divided) compound leaves are the largest leaves of any native continental U.S. plant - up to six feet long in ideal conditions according to Floridata.
|Aralia spinosa - a great tropical accent plant|
I’m sure the berries, when distributed by wildlife, create new plants. I have seen it on GNPS rescue sites, scattered here and there, and appearing to be less of a suckering situation in that case and more a case of seedlings.
The first time that I saw it bloom was on the streamside near the arena at the Cullowhee Native Plant Conference. It is appropriate then to find mine blooming for the first time during the same week thatthe conference occurs this year. As I left for the conference on Wednesday, the first flowers opened and I spied a bee circling the flower.
I returned on Saturday, eager to photograph the visiting insects. Unfortunately, a heavy downpour on Friday night caused the flower to be so heavy that the plant was bent over at the top. By Saturday afternoon the weight proved too much and the twig supporting the flower snapped.
Of course I debated continuing with this post, but I decided it is part of life in the garden. If I'm lucky, enough tissue is still connected to keep the flower alive for a little longer, supporting a few insects. It is way too tall for me to deal with in terms of pruning it off anyway.
I look forward to next year's flower show now that the plant is mature enough to flower.