Montana Outdoors

September 22, 2011

“horridus”?

Filed under: Wildflowers — Tags: , — montucky @ 10:33 pm

Devil's Club

Devil's Club

Devil's Club

Devil’s Club ~ Oplopanax horridus

Every time I see the species name of this plant it occurs to me that the person who named it probably came into contact with its spines. The stems and even the underside of the leaves are heavily armed with large spines which readily break off when one comes in contact with them and the resulting wound soon festers if the spine stays embedded in the skin.

Devil’s Club is a member of the ginseng family, growing up to ten feet tall with leaves over 14 inches across and various parts of it have been used by native peoples to treat a large array of ailments. It is found in Canada in Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario and in the Yukon, and in the states of Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Washington, Oregon and Michigan (where it is listed as “threatened”).

These photos were taken in Spring Creek Canyon, where the plant is plentiful. This year I missed the blossoms which are small and white and grow in dense clusters at the ends of the stems. The bright red berries are not edible.

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61 Comments »

  1. OMG, how special looking flower. I checked, but it is not here and Wikipedia gives in Swedish that it in North America. The name must be “correct” when looking at its stalk. Very interesting post.

    Like

    Comment by sartenada — September 23, 2011 @ 3:51 am

    • It is fairly common here, but I’ve seen it only in the shade of tall cedars and usually in deep canyons. It is very large and looks very nice when illuminated by a few of the sun’s rays touching it in the deep shade.

      Like

      Comment by montucky — September 27, 2011 @ 8:14 pm

  2. What an odd name for such an exquisitely beautiful flower!! Fascinating…

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    Comment by Marcie — September 23, 2011 @ 5:36 am

    • I think it is a very pretty plant, but it is armed and dangerous!

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      Comment by montucky — September 27, 2011 @ 8:15 pm

  3. Ouch!

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    Comment by Roberta — September 23, 2011 @ 6:09 am

    • I think various members of those plants have heard that before!

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      Comment by montucky — September 27, 2011 @ 8:16 pm

  4. Looks like a creation in a Harry Potter book – both in looks and in name.

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    Comment by Bo Mackison — September 23, 2011 @ 6:18 am

    • It does at that. It often appears to be larger than life.

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      Comment by montucky — September 27, 2011 @ 8:16 pm

  5. I have never encountered this one. What kind of habitat does it grow in?

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    Comment by anniespickns — September 23, 2011 @ 7:12 am

    • It seems to like deep canyons under tall cedars and quite near the streams. Lots of folks who live here have missed seeing them for that reason.

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      Comment by montucky — September 27, 2011 @ 8:18 pm

  6. It certainly looks menacing- ouch!

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    Comment by Barbara — September 23, 2011 @ 10:32 am

    • It is formidable. I would not like to have to make my way through a big group of them!

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      Comment by montucky — September 27, 2011 @ 8:18 pm

  7. Amazing how something so treacherous looking, be beneficial.

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    Comment by Roberta — September 23, 2011 @ 10:35 am

    • I know. I wish I knew the story if how and why it evolved so.

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      Comment by montucky — September 27, 2011 @ 8:19 pm

  8. It does look like it could be painful. Neither name is too flattering.

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    Comment by Candace — September 23, 2011 @ 10:43 am

    • The spines remind me of the hedgehog cactus, which I found to break off under the skin as well.

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      Comment by montucky — September 27, 2011 @ 8:20 pm

  9. A wonderful plant by any name, related to our Hercules Club in the east, I believe. Such beautiful fruit and such effective defense!

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    Comment by Wild_Bill — September 23, 2011 @ 2:02 pm

    • I’m not familiar with Hercules Club. This is a wonderful plant, a giant actually. It’s beautiful growing right next to the water in the deep canyons. I look forward to seeing it every summer.

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      Comment by montucky — September 27, 2011 @ 8:25 pm

  10. I think it looks beautiful…. and painful!

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    Comment by thedailyclick — September 23, 2011 @ 2:35 pm

    • It can be painful, all right, but it’s large and not easily overlooked.

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      Comment by montucky — September 27, 2011 @ 8:25 pm

  11. There is nothing like that here, I know for sure. I do think you must be right about the name. The leaves look like something we have here, though.

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    Comment by sandy — September 23, 2011 @ 2:50 pm

    • The leaves remind me of thimbleberry, but several times larger.

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      Comment by montucky — September 27, 2011 @ 8:27 pm

  12. Mother Nature sure can be an enticing wench. “Come eat my pretty berries.” Yeah, right. And ten feet tall!

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    Comment by Teresa Evangeline — September 23, 2011 @ 5:38 pm

    • I don’t know if anything eats the berries other than perhaps a bird. They would not be easy to harvest!

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      Comment by montucky — September 27, 2011 @ 8:28 pm

  13. Well, no, you don’t want to mess with the spines. But the name seems a bit over the top.

    Malcolm

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    Comment by knightofswords — September 24, 2011 @ 10:36 am

    • I think if I walked right into one, it would soon have several more names!

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      Comment by montucky — September 27, 2011 @ 8:29 pm

  14. Hmmm… A friend in Calgary posted photos of a plant this morning that have identically appearing red berries, but there aren’t any spines, the leaves are different and she suggests the berries are edible. Another reminder that, if you’re in the woods and feel like going all Euell Gibbons, a little caution is called for!

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    Comment by shoreacres — September 24, 2011 @ 11:22 am

    • I intend to become more knowledgeable about edible plants, but I’m very cautious and will remain that way. There are a dozen or so berries that I’m comfortable with and two (only) types of mushrooms but there are also several other plants that I can clearly identify but haven’t tried eating yet.

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      Comment by montucky — September 27, 2011 @ 8:31 pm

  15. It is Iovely but the spines are atrocious. I know that you said the berries are not edible but given that it is part of the ginseng family, I wonder what you can do with it?

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    Comment by Tammy — September 24, 2011 @ 11:38 am

    • I’ve read that various parts of it were used by Interior native people in the northwest for treating stomach ulcers, thyroid conditions, diabetes and as an emetic, cough syrup and laxative. Various parts were ground into powders for external poultices for arthritis and rheumatism and fresh pieces were laid on open wounds.

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      Comment by montucky — September 27, 2011 @ 8:36 pm

  16. Oh wow, what spectacular photos of this wicked and awesome plant! Yowzers, look at those spines. Reminds me of grabbing hold of Stinging Nettle! However, Devil’s Club is much prettier. I really like the first photo!

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    Comment by Anna — September 24, 2011 @ 3:32 pm

    • It’s very pretty: those huge leaves are awesome and the plants usually have great symmetry.

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      Comment by montucky — September 27, 2011 @ 8:37 pm

  17. Your photos of ‘horridus’ are beautiful! The way the broad leaves hide the spines seems particularly cruel – looks like it’d be very easy to walk a bit too close to one by mistake.

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    Comment by farmhouse stories — September 24, 2011 @ 8:01 pm

    • Well, they are very large and can be avoided. After ouching some of the spines I have always been able to steer clear of them.

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      Comment by montucky — September 27, 2011 @ 8:38 pm

  18. Wow! That is a beautiful plant! I haven’t seen one, but now that I know it grows in Michigan, I will have to keep my eyes open for it. Sounds like it like damp shady areas.

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    Comment by kateri — September 24, 2011 @ 10:03 pm

    • Yes, it likes to be near water and seems to like deep shade. I have always associated it with cedar groves.

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      Comment by montucky — September 27, 2011 @ 8:38 pm

  19. Wicked… even more wicked than out kudzu! Those berries could lure you in, but maybe should be considered a loud warning! Nice photographs of the spiney devil. 🙂

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    Comment by kcjewel — September 25, 2011 @ 7:02 am

    • The berries do look enticing, but I have always been wary of berries that I’m not absolutely sure of. I remember that my Dad taught me about nearly every edible berry and these weren’t on the list.

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      Comment by montucky — September 27, 2011 @ 8:40 pm

  20. Are you speaking about the spines from personal experience?

    Steve Schwartzman
    http://portraitsofwildflowers.wordpress.com

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    Comment by Steve Schwartzman — September 25, 2011 @ 7:16 am

    • I have touched them, but fortunately not walked into one. I learned many lessons about thorns, spines and needles during the many years I spent in the Arizona desert, and maintain that same respect for them here!

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      Comment by montucky — September 27, 2011 @ 8:42 pm

  21. I have something along my driveway here in the woods that looks like this. Will do a comparison… without touching. Don’t want those spines! Perhaps it’s as far east as the Adirondacks or perhaps it’s a close relative?

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    Comment by Cedar — September 25, 2011 @ 7:18 am

    • As far as I know it’s found only in the northwest except for some in Michigan. They are so large that if you see one now you will instantly recognize it.

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      Comment by montucky — September 27, 2011 @ 8:44 pm

  22. I dunno…I think I shall avoid that plant! I like the use of flash.

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    Comment by burstmode — September 25, 2011 @ 1:13 pm

    • I end up using flash a lot in the canyons. I’m usually carrying more weight in my pack than I enjoy anyway and therefore seldom have a tripod along. I try to use it sparingly however.

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      Comment by montucky — September 27, 2011 @ 8:46 pm

  23. The red really pops! Great shots!

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    Comment by Maggie — September 25, 2011 @ 5:08 pm

    • Yes, the berries are vivid red and shiny, too. They stand out. When they are in bloom, the white blossoms stand out too.

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      Comment by montucky — September 27, 2011 @ 8:47 pm

  24. The leaves superficially resemble thimbleberry, but the resemblence ends there. Where thimbleberry is all furry and soft, devil’s club tears you apart. And yes, I do speak from experience!

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    Comment by Kim — September 26, 2011 @ 10:48 am

    • That’s not the kind of experience that I enjoy! Those two plants share a lot of the same habitat, too. A few years ago in the canyon where these photos were taken, the trail had become very overgrown and I had to just force my way through thick thimbleberries. I did so with extreme caution, believe me!

      Like

      Comment by montucky — September 27, 2011 @ 8:49 pm

  25. I join the camp that says the plant is fascinating. I love the beauty you see, it’s obvious in your photos.

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    Comment by rumpydog — September 26, 2011 @ 11:51 am

    • Thanks rumpydog! I love the wild country here and the flora and fauna within it, and am always pleased when someone enjoys seeing it too. Thank you for visiting!

      Like

      Comment by montucky — September 27, 2011 @ 8:56 pm

  26. What a unique plant! I never fail to be interested in your posts, montucky!

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    Comment by Watching Seasons — September 26, 2011 @ 3:57 pm

    • Thanks! Yes, this one is unique! I wish you could see it growing under the cedars in one of our canyons, especially in late summer when it’s very hot in the open valleys yet very cool in the deep, damp shade where it grows.

      Like

      Comment by montucky — September 27, 2011 @ 8:58 pm

  27. Great shot Terry…wouldn’t want to grab a hold of that plant while I was hiking about !!

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    Comment by Bernie Kasper — September 27, 2011 @ 2:40 pm

    • I wouldn’t want to grab it either, Bernie! That would be memorable! Shudder!

      Like

      Comment by montucky — September 27, 2011 @ 8:58 pm

  28. Hi Montucky, I have just returned from a month-long absence. We went to California the long way and saw amazing sights! I do promise to share on my own blog soon. I just love your shots of this flowing vine. Beautiful! You always seem to have the magic touch when photographing blossoms! Have a super great day tomorrow and also for the rest of the week!

    Like

    Comment by wildlifewatcher — September 27, 2011 @ 5:03 pm

    • Hi Wildlifewatcher! It will be good to have you back posting again and I will look forward to seeing photos of your trip!

      Like

      Comment by montucky — September 27, 2011 @ 9:01 pm

  29. Is wordpress having some sort of problem? I have been getting emailed notifications of new comments and new posts as usual, but for some reason the mails are blank, just a block of light blue but no text and no pictures. Has anyone else had this problem?

    Like

    Comment by Kim — September 27, 2011 @ 8:58 pm

    • I’ve been out of touch for a few days and am far behind in reading and commenting, but I just checked a few email notifications and they seem to be fine.

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      Comment by montucky — September 27, 2011 @ 9:04 pm

  30. Shoot. I’m still getting bluegrey nothing in my emails, including these last two.

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    Comment by Kim — September 27, 2011 @ 9:08 pm

    • I just checked a few more subscription emails out of WordPress and they seem fine. I use Yahoo email on a Mac with the Chrome browser by the way. Could it be an AOL problem possibly?

      Like

      Comment by montucky — September 27, 2011 @ 9:25 pm

  31. Worked just fine for the first few months. Just stopped working yesterday or the day before. Everything else on the computer is working fine. I’ll try another computer and see if it any works better.

    Like

    Comment by Kim — September 27, 2011 @ 9:47 pm


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