Devil"s Club Oplopanax horridus, garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest

Devil’s Club

The pyramid of flowers is as tall as a beer stein…

Devil"s Club Oplopanax horridus, garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

The leaves are wider than a dinner plate…

The plant towers over my head !

It reminds me of something from Gulliver’s Travels into the land of giants.  Where else would I find such drama??

But we aren’t in Brobdingnag.  Strathcona Park is a real place (and just as magical).  It’s these moist rain forests of Vancouver Island that provide the right conditions for Devil’s Club (Oplopanax horridus).

Devil"s Club Oplopanax horridus, garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

This could make a great architectural statement in the garden.  Shouldn’t I get one?

Actually no.   It’s armed and dangerous.

ARMED:
Check out the spikes!
They spiral all the way up the stem and run along the veins of the leaves — on both sides!  Yikes!

Devil"s Club Oplopanax horridus, garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

C had an adventure hiking through a stand once.  Can you imagine?  WorkSafe BC does not recommend it.

DANGEROUS:
It’s not just the wicked spines.  The luscious red berries look mighty tempting but they’re poisonous.  Yup.  Bears might chow them down for dessert, but if you’re a people, give them a miss.

The original people of this coast have a long history with Devil’s Club. Uses vary widely, from making fishing hooks to tattoo dye. They celebrate its powerfully medicinal as well as spiritually protective  charms.

I wonder how many centuries it would take before I gathered enough nerve to ask anything of a plant so obviously stand-offish.

-30-

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