Knock me over with a feather. Boy, was I surprised to find that the plant with this lovely fall color that we discovered at the BotGarden is devil’s walkingstick. Also known as Aralia spinosa and native to southeastern North America, this is not a species you want to make casual contact with when lumbering through the forest. The spines are what you want to avoid—they’re on the trunk and even on softer tissues near the leaves. Several people have told me that if your skin is punctured by a spine, small flecks of the plant’s tissue will flake off into the wound, leading to a nasty infection.
But at the BotGarden—here I can keep my distance!