Hercule’s Club (Aralia spinosa)

Common Name Latin Name Plant Family
Hercule's Club
Aralia spinosa
Araliaceae

Wood – close-grained, weak, light, soft, brittle[82, 227]. Of little economic value[229].

  • Medicinal Use

    Analgesic[46, 61].

    The bark, especially of the roots[82] is the part most commonly used medicinally, though other parts of the plant, including the fruit[82], also possess medicinal properties[4]. The fresh bark is strongly emetic, ophthalmic, purgative and sialagogue[4, 46, 61, 222, 257], when dried it is a stimulating alterative and is diaphoretic[82].

    A tincture of the berries is used in the treatment of toothache and rheumatism[4, 222, 257].

    A poultice of the roots is applied to boils, skin eruptions, varicose veins, old sores and swellings[222, 257].

    A cold infusion of the roots is used as drops for sore eyes[257].

  • Edible Use

    Young leaves – cooked[105, 177]. The leaves usually have a number of slender prickles, they must be gathered before the prickles harden[159] and are then chopped finely and used as a potherb[183].

  • Cautionary Notes

    Handling the roots can cause dermatitis in some people[222]. Large amounts of the berries are poisonous[222].

Cultivation & Habitat

Seed – best sown as soon as ripe in a cold frame. Stored seed requires 3 – 5 months of cold stratification. Germination usually takes place within 1 – 4 months at 20¡c[134]. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in light shade in a greenhouse for at least their first winter. Once the plants are 25cm or more tall, they can be planted out into their permanent positions, late spring or early summer being the best time to do this. Root cuttings 8cm long, December in a cold frame[11, 78]. Store the roots upside down in sand and pot up in March/April. High percentage[78]. Division of suckers in late winter[11]. Very easy, the suckers can be planted out direct into their permanent positions if required.
Prefers a good deep loam and a semi-shady position[1]. Requires a sheltered position[1]. A fast-growing but short-lived tree in its native zone[229], this species is of little value in Britain[1]. It is generally a single-stemmed plant, often spreading freely by means of suckers[182, 229]. Plants make finer foliage when growing in rich soils but are generally healthier and longer-lived in a comparatively poor soil[11]. The young growth in spring, even on mature plants, is frost-tender and so it is best to grow the plants in a position sheltered from the early morning sun[K].
South-eastern N. America – New York to Florida, east to Texas.

Become ungovernable, break the chains of the matrix; grow and forage your own food and medicine.

*None of the information on this website qualifies as professional medical advice. Take only what resonates with your heart and use your own personal responsibility for what’s best for you. For more information [brackets] [000], see bibliography.