A brutally spiny plant, Oplopanax horridus has been widely regarded as one of the most important plants, medicinally and spiritually, for the indigenous groups in its native range. For more extensive information regarding it’s ethnobotanical values, there is a great publication at HerbalGram, through the American Botanical Society. It’s common name, devil’s club, is most likely related to the fact that this plant was used in a spiritual sense.
Because Oplopanax is closely related to the genus Panax, ginseng, it has been overharvested in some areas, reducing the species population size. Oplopanax horridus takes many years to reach the age of maturity and reproduce via seeds, therefore large groups of this plant are hard to come by, and should be appreciated when they are.
Oplopanax horridus grows as an upright shrub up to 9 ft (3 m) tall, with massive palmate leaves. Leaves, stems and bark, are all covered in large yellow prickles. Flowers are small and greenish white, presented in a pyramidal cluster. Fruit are bright red, in a terminal spike, a delicacy for bears.
Devil’s club ranges from Alaska south to Oregon, mostly growing in moist, old growth forests. There is also a disjunct population in Ontario, Canada, and a few islands in Lake Superior.
Check out our current availability of Oplopanax horridus