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Oplopanax horridus - (Sm.)Miq.

Common Name Devil's Club
Family Araliaceae
USDA hardiness 4-8
Known Hazards The plant is densely armed with spikes and these spikes are irritant[200].
Habitats Moist woods, especially by streams[11, 60] and usually in rich soils[99].
Range Western N. America.
Edibility Rating    (2 of 5)
Other Uses    (1 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (2 of 5)
Care (info)
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Full shade Semi-shade
Oplopanax horridus Devil

Oplopanax horridus Devil


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Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of shrub
Oplopanax horridus is a deciduous Shrub growing to 2 m (6ft) by 2 m (6ft).
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 4 and is not frost tender. It is in flower from June to August. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs).
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils. It can grow in full shade (deep woodland) or semi-shade (light woodland). It prefers moist soil. The plant can tolerate maritime exposure.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Echinopanax horridus. Fatsia horrida. Panax horridum.

Plant Habitats

Woodland Garden Dappled Shade; Shady Edge; not Deep Shade;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Leaves  Root  Shoots
Edible Uses:

Young shoots - peeled and then cooked[46, 61, 105, 106]. Only the very young shoots are used[172]. The roots can be chewed after peeling[105, 106, 161].

References   More on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.
Analgesic  Antidandruff  Antiphlogistic  Antirheumatic  Hypoglycaemic  Parasiticide  Parasiticide  Tonic

Devil's club was widely employed medicinally by several native North American Indian tribes who used it especially for its pain-relieving properties[257]. It is little, if at all, used in modern herbalism, though it probably merits further investigation. The root bark and stems are analgesic, antirheumatic, antiphlogistic, appetizer, blood purifier, cathartic, emmenagogue, galactogogue, hypoglycaemic, ophthalmic, pectoral and tonic[172, 157]. An infusion is used in the treatment of coughs and colds, bronchitis, tuberculosis, stomach problems etc[257]. A decoction is drunk in the treatment of rheumatism and is also applied externally as a wash on the affected joints[257]. A poultice of the bark has been used to relieve pain in various parts of the body[257]. A poultice of the bark has been applied to a nursing mother's breasts in order to stop an excessive flow of milk[257]. A decoction has been used as an eye wash in the treatment of cataracts and as a herbal steam bath for treating general body pains[257]. The burnt stems, mixed with oil, are applied as a salve on swellings[257]. An extract of the root bark lowers blood sugar levels and an infusion of the bark has been used in the treatment of diabetes[213]. The infusion also has a tonic effect on the blood and liver[213]. The inner bark is emetic in large doses and purgative (especially if taken with hot water)[257]. It is used in the treatment of coughs and colds, stomach and bowel cramps[257]. A poultice of the inner bark is used in the treatment of wounds, sores etc[257]. The berries have been rubbed on the scalp to combat lice and dandruff, and to make the hair shiny[256].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses

Parasiticide  Parasiticide

The berries can be mashed into a pulp and then rubbed onto the scalp to get rid of head lice[257].

Special Uses

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Requires a cool moist soil[11, 200]. Prefers a position in light shade[182]. Prefers dense shade and is probably best if grown in moist woodland[1, 11]. Tolerates maritime exposure[200]. (Rather a strange report for a plant that needs to be grown in dense shade[K]). A very hardy plant, tolerating temperatures down to at least -15°c, but the young shoots in spring can be damaged by late frosts[11, 200]. It is therefore best not grown in a frost pocket[182]. This species was until recently considered to have its range in N. America and Japan, but the Japanese form has now been separated off into its own species as O. japonicus[200]. A very ornamental plant, but it is densely armed with spikes[60]. It transplants easily and also tolerates pruning[200]. The leaves and stems are excessively spiny[182].

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

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Plant Propagation

Seed - best sown in a cold frame as soon as it is ripe in the autumn[200]. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Division of suckers in the dormant season. Root cuttings in a greenhouse in the winter[188].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Native Range

NORTHERN AMERICA: Canada (Yukon (west), Ontario (southwest), Alberta, British Columbia), United States (Alaska (southwest), Michigan (Isle Royale), Idaho, Montana (west), Oregon, Washington)

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther
Oplopanax japonicus Shrub3.0 5-9  LMHFSM21 

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


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Botanical References


Links / References

For a list of references used on this page please go here

Readers comment

José Waizel-Bucay   Thu May 19 05:51:47 2005

For cancer treatment by canadian indians. Gottesfeld, MJL. 1992. The Importance of Bark Products in the Aboriginal Economies of Northwestern British Columbia, Canada. Economic Botany 46(2):148-157 (p. 152).

Charles Bingham   Mon Jul 14 2008

Living in Southeast Alaska's Tongass National Forest (a temperate rain forest), the devil's club is a constant sight. The plant is very prominent in Tlingít, Haida and Tsimshian tribal medicine. Called "S'áxt'" in Tlingít and "Ts'iihlinjaaw" in Haida, the devil's club plant was used to cure most ailments. Local Alaska Natives collect devil's club to make salves and balms, and others make tea. The use of devil's club was so prevalent that the Tlingít name, "S'áxt'" also means medicine. The SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC, the local tribal health organization) gave its Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital the Tlingít name of "S'áxt' Hít" (or "House of Medicine")

National Public Radio (NPR) story about the use of devil's club in Tlingit culture A 2004 radio story about the uses of devil's club in Tlingit culture

Charles Bingham   Mon Jul 14 2008

Another good source is the book "Plants of Haida Gwaii," by Nancy J. Turner, 2004, Sononis Press. http://miva.crownpub.bc.ca/Merchant2/merchant.mvc?Screen=PROD&Product_Code=9781550391442&Category_Code=CP-01-02

Crown Publications Link to book info for "Plants of Haida Gwaii" by Nancy J. Turner

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