Devil's Club: Diabolical Spines Protect Against Many Evils

Sep 27, 2014

Devil's Club (Oplopanax horridus) (CC BY 2.0)
Credit Flickr user, Pfly

The gigantic leaves of devil's club barely hide its sharp thorns  - if you're ever sliding down a mountain slope, this is not a plant to grab. But inside the roots' bark lies medicine for all sorts of evils: native coastal North Americans treated as many as 34 types of ailments with it. From its antifungal, antibacterial and antiviral properties to its use for fish hooks, lures, and charcoal, or its role in purification and attainment of supernatural powers, devil's club has been a staple for centuries to people from Alaska to California.  Today, there's evidence that it might act as a blood-sugar stabilizer for people with type-2 diabetes.

(Podcast: "The Plant Detective," 9/27/14