One of Nature’s Mysteries to Solve

Hey there!

Recognize this native berry that is ripe right now, in the fall?

Mystery #135

Give us a guess! We’ll be checking in later.


Well, most of those berries are missing, but the little stems that hold them are quite distinctive in the starburst pattern and purple color of the Devil’s Walkingstick, Aralia spinosa.

berries of Devil's Walkingstick



Every berry on this small native tree was a flower this summer.

Devil's Walkingstick

Devil’s Walkingstick, sometimes known as Hercules’ Club, is a small, sun-loving tree that often grows at the edges of the woods. It doesn’t have many branches, but the huge leaves are able to spread wide to collect the sun’s rays. Yes, this one sunlit ‘leaf’ is a single leaf, a double-compound one!

leaf of Devil's Walkingstick

But sometimes that doesn’t seem to make up for their woodsy location.

Devil's Walkingstick trunks reaching for sun

The name comes form the tree’s form in winter. When the leaves drop, only the slender, spiny trunk is left. And because of those spines, not too many squirrels are climbing up there to get the berries. We leave them to the birds.


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