Devil's Club grows in moist areas in Southeast and Southcentral Alaska. It is a prickly shrub that grows 3-8' tall and forms dense thickets. The very large maple-like leaves have sharp spines on the underside of the leaves and stems. Tangling with a spine can be a painful proposition because they are very delicate and have the tendency to break off under the skin. The leaves grow horizontally to gather more light in the shade of the forest. The whitish-green flowers are on a dense, woody spike and mature into bright red berries which the bears like to eat in the fall.
Devil's Club is the only member of the ginseng family that occurs in Alaska.
Indigenous people have used Devil's Club for a variety of traditional medicines to treat everything from arthritis and tuberculosis to deodorant and to treat lice. More powerful applications included purification and cleansing, combating witchcraft and attainment of supernatural powers. Today you can purchase Devil's Club balm for whatever ails you.