In celebration of Halloween next week, I picked 2 very cool yet scary plants…scary to some, but very not scary and extremely cool to others…like me!
Our first pick is Araliaspinosa, or commonly known as ‘Devil’s Walking Stick’ or ‘Hercules Club’. It gets its name from the stout, sharp spines on its leaf stalks, stems and branches. Stick with me here…as it gets older, it actually loses some of the sharp spines (theory here is that those help to protect younger plants from critters). And when you see it (grown single or multi-stemmed) the spines and the flat topped layered foliage (large compound leaves) makes it look like something from the tropical jungle. And did I mention the tiny green/white summer flowers that are pollinator magnets, followed up with clusters of berries which are a favorite for many birds? Plant this one, mulch around it with a large mulch ring, and let it do its thing. Now that’s a cool small tree! (Hardy Zone 4, sun to part shade, 15-20’ high and 10’ wide.)
Our second pick is even cooler…its Poncirustrifoliate ‘Flying Dragon’, or commonly known as Japanese Hardy Orange or Bitter Orange. Yep, hardy to Zone 5. Now this large shrub looks like something from the Snow White / Wicked Witch story. It has seriously spiny dark green stems (curved thorns) that twist and curl and zigzag. The leaves are three lobed (trifoliate) that come out light green, dark green in season, and yellow in fall. Plus it flowers in the spring with fragrant white flowers that yes, produce small yellow-orange fruit (edible – sort of lemony – very acidic and seedy) in the fall. Now come on; is that cool or what? Again, plant it, mulch around it, and stand back and let it do its thing! (Zone 5, full sun, 6-7’ high and wide, thorns are cool to look at but can be vicious!) It’s one of my grandson Kellen’s favorite plants. He even has a bunch of oranges on it this year! Just gave me one yesterday!