Tales from the Bent Twig Trail: Curiousities

By Wren Smith

Curiosities abound, adding interest and even mystery to our hikes! On the far side of the Bent Twig Trail, you can find a small grove of strange slender trees. Many of these are the right thickness to use as walking sticks. However I wouldn’t recommend it – as you will discover upon closer examination, the trunks of these trees are ringed by sharp thorns or spines. You’d have to be as mean as a devil to hold on to them with impunity. These trees are in fact, devils walking sticks, Aralia spinosa, and members of the ginseng family or the Araliaceae. The species name fits, don’t you think? These spines provide some protection against hungry animals (rabbits, deer, mice etc.) who often decide to gnaw elsewhere after encountering these trees’ spiny defenses.

We will revisit these trees in the spring when their large compound leaves give them a more tropical or fern like appearance.

Happy hiking!

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