I have a tiny backyard that is mostly wild and out of control by design. We do minimal maintenance, almost no weed pulling since I tend to encourage weeds for their beauty, free food and medicinal uses. I tried early on to set aside space for vegetables but the yard is too shady and the deer, squirrels and chipmunks too plentiful.
I also like to take pictures of the things that grow in our tiny, wildish space. One of the plants I’ve been fascinated by this year is the massive Devil’s Walking Stick that moved in two or three years ago. It’s grown to be quite tall–at least 15 ft or so and it’s produced a whole crop of babies that are blocking the path down to the gully.
Devil’s Walking Stick, or more formally, Aralia spinosa is indigenous to the Eastern United States and is quite formidable in that it has very sharp thorns that grow all along the woody trunk and along it’s umbrella-like compound, pinnate leaves. It is a serious plant – no fooling around with this one. It’s flowers are tiny, delicate things that grow in huge creamy white clusters at the very top of the plant. I hear they smell like lemons, but they are too far away for me to sniff. From the frenzied activity of the bees and other pollinators, I suspect they smell heavenly. In the fall, it produces berries that are an important source of food for birds.
Here are some of the photos I’ve managed to take, despite the distance and my inability to hold my largest lens steady. This first one is the largest plant sending out it’s first leaves of spring. If you look closely, you can see the start of all the extremely sharp thorns that adorn this plant.
The next shot shows the budding flowers already attracting pollinators.
Devil’s Walking Stick in full flower. If you bring up the large picture (just click on it), note the round disk like things…those are the berries forming. They will turn purple when ripe. This is the second largest plant, but you can see the leaves of the grandmother plant in front of it.
I wish I could manage a picture of the entire plant from the ground up, but my small Poke forest (Phytolacca americana) is in the way, obscuring the first several feet of the trunk.
One of the not so good closeup shots of the bees flying around the flowers came out a little surprising. I do think this might be something other than an insect. Possibly a fairy?