Oplopanax horridus - (Sm.) Torr. & Gray ex Miq.
Devil's-club
Other Common Names: devil's-club
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Oplopanax horridus Miq. (TSN 29397)
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.148842
Element Code: PDARA08010
Informal Taxonomy: Plants, Vascular - Flowering Plants - Ginseng Family
 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Plantae Anthophyta Dicotyledoneae Apiales Araliaceae Oplopanax
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Concept Reference
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Concept Reference: Kartesz, J.T. 1994. A synonymized checklist of the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. 2nd edition. 2 vols. Timber Press, Portland, OR.
Concept Reference Code: B94KAR01HQUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Oplopanax horridus
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: G5
Global Status Last Reviewed: 12Jul2016
Global Status Last Changed: 12Jul2016
Ranking Methodology Used: Ranked by inspection
Rounded Global Status: G5 - Secure
Reasons: Oplopanax horridus occurs from southern Oregon north through western Canada into Alaska. It also occurs disjunctly in Michigan and Ontario. It is relatively more abundant in the northern portion of its range, is considered a wetland habitat indicator, and grows in old growth riparian habitats. Although this species seems able to adapt to disturbance to a certain extent, it is threatened by high intensity fires, habitat loss, and over-grazing. This species is also potentially threatened by wild-collection for medicinal use. Interest in Oplopanax horridus for this purpose is reportedly increasing and it is closely related to other highly traded species, for which it has been used as a substitute.
Nation: United States
National Status: N4?
Nation: Canada
National Status: N5 (12Jul2016)

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
United States Alaska (SNR), Idaho (SNR), Michigan (S2), Montana (S5), Oregon (SNR), Washington (SNR)
Canada Alberta (S3), British Columbia (S4S5), Ontario (S1), Yukon Territory (S1S2)

Other Statuses

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent Comments: Oplopanax horridus is concentrated in the Pacific Northwest, western Canada, and Alaska. It also occurs disjunctly in Michigan and Ontario, where it is considered rare.

Population Size Comments: Oplopanax horridus increases in abundance towards the northern portions of its range. It is known in riparian areas throughout the Cascades and considered abundant in Alaska, but not common in southern Oregon (pers. comm. N. Vance, December 2000). This species is relatively rare in Ontario and Alberta and known from only one site in the Yukon Territory (Cody 1996). In Michigan it occurs in one site where it grows in dense thickets covering large areas. It can be collected, but a permit is required because it is a state-endangered species (M. Penskar, pers. comm. December 2000).

Overall Threat Impact Comments: Ecological threats to this species include habitat loss and fire. Habitat loss due to logging will threaten native populations, since this plant is very light sensitive (pers. comm. A. Bentley, October 2000, Alaback 1980). High intensity fires can devastate this species, however such fires may not be very frequent in its range, particularly to the north. Fire has been shown to kill populations that may take decades to regenerate by seed (Alaback 1980, Vance et al. in press). This species is also vulnerable to over-browsing by elk in limited areas.

Another potential threat is that cuttings of Oplopanax horridus collected from the wild appear to be gaining in popularity from the perspective of experienced herbalists (pers. comm. R. Klein, October 2000; pers. comm. A. Bentley, October 2000). Some experts in the medicinal plant industry have suggested that trade is medium to large and demand has increased over the past ten years (Robbins 1999). Specifically, O. horridus is gaining popularity for use as a supplement for controlling diabetes (pers. comm. A. Bentley, October 2000, Vance et al. in press). This species is also sold as "industrial grade Panax ginseng" (Vance et al. in press). Since it is possible to cultivate this plant and seeds and plants are commercially available (Vance et al. in press), it is unclear whether cultivation is relieving pressure on wild plants. Therefore, amounts of cultivated versus wild-harvested material in commercial trade should be investigated. This plant is also commercially available as an ornamental. Vance et al. (in press) suggested that utilizing specific harvesting techniques for sustainable use could alleviate long-term threats to wild populations. Therefore, potential threats caused by wild collecting can be mediated by individual collectors (see Vance et al. in press).

Short-term Trend Comments: Apparently relatively stable; no population inventories reporting major decline; however some experts in the medicinal plant industry have suggested that populations and species have declined over the past ten years (Robbins 1999).

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Distribution
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Global Range: Oplopanax horridus is concentrated in the Pacific Northwest, western Canada, and Alaska. It also occurs disjunctly in Michigan and Ontario, where it is considered rare.

U.S. States and Canadian Provinces
Color legend for Distribution Map

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States AK, ID, MI, MT, OR, WA
Canada AB, BC, ON, YT

Range Map
No map available.

Ecology & Life History
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Basic Description: Oplopanax horridus is a perennial shrub that reaches 1-3 m tall. Its leaves are 5-7 lobed, rounded and serrated. Spines cover the leaves, petioles, and stems (Gleason 1952). Flowers in late spring to midsummer. Fruits that are produced in the fall will overwinter.
Diagnostic Characteristics: This is the only North American Oplopanax species.
Ecology Comments: This species is browsed by deer and elk and provides shade cover for salminoids and other fishes (Vance et al. in press). It tends to grow in relatively "damaged" ecosystems (Vance et al. in press).
Habitat Comments: Oplopanax horridus is a late seral, climax and old-growth forest understory species (Vance et al. in press). A study in southeastern Alaska showed significantly more O. horridus growing in old growth riparian than upland hardwood forests (Hanley and Hoel 1996). O. horridus can be considered an indicator species for wetlands as it grows near springs and streams and in drainage, seepage, and wet bottom areas (Minore 1983) in sandy, loamy, or silty soils (Howard 1993).
Economic Attributes
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Economic Uses: MEDICINE/DRUG
Production Method: Cultivated, Wild-harvested
Economic Comments: Many parts of this plant can be utilized for medicinal purposes, including the root, berries, stems, and leaves. Therefore, the method of harvesting can have different effects on local populations; threats associated with harvesting can be mediated according to the method used by the collector.
Management Summary Not yet assessed
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Population/Occurrence Delineation Not yet assessed
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Population/Occurrence Viability
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U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank) Not yet assessed
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Authors/Contributors
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NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 25Jan2001
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Kelly McConnell

Botanical data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs), The North Carolina Botanical Garden, and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).

References
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  • Alaback, P.B. 1980. Provisional plant community types of southeastern Alaska. Unpublished paper on file at: US Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station, Intermountain Fire Sciences Laboratory, Missoula, MT 15 p.

  • Cody, W.J. 1996. The flora of the Yukon Territory. National Research Council of Canada Research Press, Ottawa, Canada. 643 pp.

  • Gleason, H.A. 1952. The new Britton and Brown illustrated flora of the northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. 3 volumes. Hafner Press, New York. 1732 pp.

  • Howard, J. L. 1993c. Oplopanax horridus. In: The Fire Effects Information System. Fire Effects Information System. Available online: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/ (Accessed October 2000).

  • Kartesz, J.T. 1994. A synonymized checklist of the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. 2nd edition. 2 vols. Timber Press, Portland, OR.

  • Kartesz, J.T. 1999. A synonymized checklist and atlas with biological attributes for the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. First edition. In: Kartesz, J.T., and C.A. Meacham. Synthesis of the North American Flora, Version 1.0. North Carolina Botanical Garden, Chapel Hill, N.C.

  • Minore, Don. 1983. Western redcedar--a literature review. Gen. Tech. Rep. PNW-150. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Forest and Range Experiment Station. 70 p.

  • Moss, E.H. 1994. Flora of Alberta. Second Edition revised by J.G. Packer. University of Toronto Press, Toronto.

  • Robbins, C. 1999. Medicine from US wildlands: An assessment of native plant species harvested in the United States for medicinal use and trade and evaluation of the conservation and management implications. Traffic North America. Prepared for The Nature Conservancy, Arlington, VA. Available at http://www.nps.gov/plants/medicinal/.

  • Vance, N.C., M. Borsting and D. Pilz. In press. Special forest products species information guide for Pacific Northwest. USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station, General Technical Report PNW-GTR-XX.

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