Thursday, July 27, 2023

A Dance with the Devil

I pause as I cross my bathroom window over the tub and see the devil's walking stick, Auralia spinosa, outside at the edge of the ravine as it dips away into the jungle of summer green.  We have been having some good soaking rains between the hot sunshine and Tabor's Woods are loving it!  The Aralia is now about eighteen feet high as it reaches eagerly toward the sun.  This 'weed' loves disturbed areas and moved in years ago after we had built the house and disturbed the soil for our foundation.  This plant is a younger generation.

I go upstairs and look down from the guest bedroom window.  When my husband's nephew stayed with us last year after a broken bone accident, he would watch from the guest bedroom window the dance of the pollinators on the blooms of the devil's walking stick.  It is a peaceful, healing, and soothing pastime. 

I go outside in the early morning for better photos.  The air is thick but not cloying.  The temperature is warm but not hot.  The cicadas are working hard at their percussion jazz concert and their buzzing fills the air.  The young osprey is celebrating his/her ability to catch fish and fly high overhead and chirps continuously like some very happy teenager at a game win.  A single vulture quietly circles high above in slow circles against a clear blue sky.

I walk around the house camera in hand.

This shrub is a native and perhaps considered a weed, but it IS a native.  (I have written about this before.)  The common name Devil's Walking Stick is due to the nasty thorns on the bark.  If you bump against it or accidentally grab it, you are in for some pain.

This Auralia is just about to bloom.  It starts with a mass of white buds at the very top.  Soon the pollinators will move in and cover each flower with their busy harvesting.  Today the yellow swallowtail butterflies drift gently over the buds waiting for dinnertime.  They resemble a gentle yellow leaf fall and after checking ever so briefly move on to my Physostegia virginiana - obedient plant.

Aralia spinosa
is related to the ginseng family.  "The genus name comes from an old French-Canadian name of “aralie”, applied to a baby girl and means “one who is a born leader.”  In Japan, I have been told, that areas of this plant in the woods are coveted for a harvest of the early leaves that emerge and can be cooked and eaten like spring ferns (fiddleheads).  I have not tried that.


  1. Your words create an image in my mind as the outdoors at a fancy ball dazzling with diamonds..

  2. This is a lovely word visit to your garden.
    Google tells me that the Devils Walking Stick is native to Eastern North America, which is why we don't have it here. We do have Devil's Club, equally nasty with thorns, but not nearly as pretty.

  3. We have a bush, name unknown, which has long thorns too. How brilliant for the plant to have such protection, though it’s not good when it comes to pruning.

  4. I love your descriptions of the life of your woods.

  5. You must enjoy your mornings ... and more.

  6. Anonymous9:20 AM

    This is Granny Annie. I have to comment as Anonymous. Love your outings with the camera. You inspire me to try the same but it is way too hot here now.

  7. We used to have another "walking stick" bush, with very curly branches...and probably thorns as well. Mr. somebody. It was at the library and beautiful even in winter with those branches going all around. Sigh. The new Beautification Committee took out all the bulbs and pretty coverings, and the Harry Lauder's Walking Stick (there, I remembered his name!) and planted low everygreens and lots of mulch. It's very dull looking now. No seasonal changes at all.

  8. Thank you for the little tour of your garden, I wish I could be there in person as it is all quite different from here and would be so interesting to actually experience it in real life. I saw a tree that looked very similar to the Devils Walking Stick in London recently, similar acacia type leaves and white flowers. Does it have berries?

  9. Thorns are tolerable when they are accompanied by masses of flowers and butterflies!


Glad to hear from you once again. I really like these visits. Come sit on this log and tell me what you are thinking.