The Devil’s Club (Oplopanax horridus) is a distinctive plant native to the forests of North America, specifically in the Pacific Northwest region, which includes notable areas like Harper Park.
A devil’s club found in Juneau, Alaska
About the Devil’s Club
Reaching heights of 1 to 3 meters (3 to 9 feet), the Devil’s Club stands tall as a deciduous shrub. Its most striking attribute is its dense covering of yellow spines that extend along the stems and leaves. These spines serve as a potent defense mechanism, deterring herbivores and protecting the plant from potential damage. The sharp spines can cause irritation and itching when they come into contact with the skin, earning the plant its intriguing name.
In addition to its thorny armor, the Devil’s Club boasts remarkably large leaves, measuring between 20 and 40 centimeters in diameter (8 to 15 inches). The impressive leaf size serves multiple purposes for the plant’s survival and growth. Firstly, the larger surface area allows for greater light absorption, maximizing the plant’s ability to carry out photosynthesis. By capturing more sunlight, the Devil’s Club can produce higher levels of energy, supporting its overall health and development.
Moreover, the expansive leaves play a crucial role in water retention. In the shaded understory environment where the Devil’s Club often thrives, capturing sufficient moisture can be challenging. However, the plant’s sizable leaves enable it to collect and retain water from various sources such as rainfall, dew, and humidity. This adaptive feature ensures a steady water supply, contributing to the plant’s resilience and ability to survive in its habitat.
During the spring season, the Devil’s Club produces distinctive flowers. Starting as white and green blossoms, these clusters of flowers eventually transform into vibrant red berries during the summer months. The bright red berries serve as a valuable food source for local wildlife, including bears and birds. These animals play an essential role in seed dispersal, helping to propagate the Devil’s Club across the forest landscape.
In Harper Park
As far as i’ve seen, there is only one shrub of the Devil’s Club that i have seen this year in the park, but i am sure that more will come in following time.
In conclusion, the Devil’s Club is a remarkable shrub found in the forests of the Pacific Northwest region. Its unique attributes, including the spiny exterior, large leaves, and striking flowers and berries, contribute to its distinctiveness and ecological significance. Despite its challenging nature, the Devil’s Club coexists with its environment, providing food and shelter for wildlife while offering cultural and medicinal value to human communities.
Since there isn’t much garbage to clean up (which is good) I thought I might talk about the trees in the park. The main ones are the Western Red Cedar and the Douglas Fir. There’s another one too, it’s a bit uncommon but you might find it if you look up at the leaves of the trees. It usually has bright green leaves and they won’t blend in with the other trees. Take a guess, let’s see if you’re right: it’s the big-leaf maple tree!
Now I’ll tell you about the stats of the trees. The Douglas fir is large to very large tree, with an average height of 20-60 meters. The Western red cedar has an average height of 30-53 meters. And lastly, the big-leaf maple has an average height of 9-21 meters. Pretty cool right? Here are some pictures that we took during the week, thanks for reading!
On top of the other glacial erratic in Harper Park (near the Smiling Creek bridge). Douglas firs, Western red cedars, and big leaf maples in the background.
Last week, we saw bear poop and new skunk cabbage: not a coincidence!
Did you know skunk cabbage creates heat and smells bad because bugs like flies and beetles think it’s a dead animal? And thats good for the plant because from time to time they will land on other plants, right? And then they will land on the skunk cabbage and it gets pollinated!
Bears love skunk cabbage too for a very weird but cool reason! And the link down here is why:
Week 3 was not so hard as last week. We only got 1 bag of garbage this time so that’s good news.
I found out about this new app that my mom showed me that shows you what plant you’re looking at and all you need to do is take a picture of it and it’s incredibly cool. I’ll show you some photos of plants that live in Harper Park and the app itself: