The very large leaves in these photos belong to a plant aptly called “Devil’s Club”, Oplopanax horridus; note the large sharp spines. It grows up to 9 feet tall and the leaves get up to 14 inches across. A flower bud is visible in the first photo: it will turn into white blossoms followed by bright red fruit. I will try to remember to follow up with photos of both later in the summer. I found there is a reason for the species name horridus after having accidentally making contact with some of the spines.
We had a little rain this evening too. I think that your are has had much more volume of rain than we have. We’ve had lots of showers, but they have mostly been light without any substantial water. The canyons with streams are pretty normal and very beautiful now, but the open mountainsides here are very dry.
I’ve never seen birds around them, but I see few birds in the canyon. I hear their calls, but most are very shy. The berries are considered to be not edible, but I haven’t read that they are poisonous. Devil’s Club is a member of the ginseng family and the Indians use various parts of the plant for all sorts of things.
There are several such places not far from here where a small stream flows through a deep canyon with a good growth of cedars and those are the only places where I’ve seen Devil’s Club. I’ve learned to associate it with cedars and water.
It certainly does make me thankful for the trail builders! I think of them very often! A few years ago I hiked that trail, I think it was in July, and got to a point where the thimbleberries had covered the trail so thickly that I couldn’t push my way through and turned around. It’s amazing what vegetation does in places like that!
Do you know if it’s an invasive species? We have several brambles around here that are prolific but no where near as large as that…although they can get quite tall. But we are battling invasive species that are threatening our woodlands to a great extent here.
So many shades of green! And the roughness on those Devil’s Club leaves is obvious. When we took to the bush paths in Liberia, we always had a couple of fellows with us who were skilled with a machete – good for vegetation and snakes!
I don’t have a sensory memory or reference for that other than smelling my mother’s old cedar chest…I can imagine that smell, but don’t know if it would be the same as being out with the trees in their element before they’re cut and processed…but if it is, it’s wonderful.
I’m sure I would…and those other smells are inviting as well. I am still struck by the sensory memories of my first hike up here in our canyons…it was like a warm perfume riding on the breeze, Montucky…it was transporting, really…I’m sure you know what I mean.
Both! I find it interesting that these small cedar forests exist in small, deep canyons away from the roads. The usual traveller through this area would have no idea they are there. They are real treasures for those who love nature!
I will visit there every two weeks or so. I want to catch the Devil’s Club in bloom and several other wildflowers that bloom there a little later. It’s not far from my house but it’s a very steep trail.