Habit: 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. Large clusters of this species can be found growing together. Flowers are small and greenish white, presented in a pyramidal cluster. Fruit are bright red, in a terminal spike, a delicacy for bears.
Ecology: 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.
Growing Conditions: partial to full shade. Prefers moist, acidic soil. Plant in the wet spot in the garden.
Oplopanax horridus has been widely regarded as one of the most important plants, medicinally and spiritually, for the indigenous groups in its native range. It’s common name, devil’s club, is most likely related to the fact that this plant was used in a spiritual sense.