Recently, as my friends and I hiked around Desoto State Park, which is located near Ft. Payne, Alabama, we noticed several of these trees. Most of the trees that we found were no larger than 8 feet, however the Devil's Walking Stick generally reaches a height of about 20 feet.
Other than the name- this tree also has other cool features. Did you know that this tree has the largest leaves of any tree in North America? (source) Before I had discovered fact about this tree, I had thought that the aptly named Big Leaf Magnolia held the honor. The "leaves" of the Devil's Walking Stick are comprised of many compound leaflets- the entire leaf arrangement can stretch to three feet in length by 2 feet in width.
The scientific name of the Devil's Walkingstick is Aralia spinosa. It is aptly named- the translation for "spinosa" is "with spines." The helpful nature website, Flordata, lists many good uses for the Devil's Walkingstick- they note that this plant can be planted beneath windows to deter burglars or it can be planted in place of a barbed wire fence as a living fence. And to quote their opinion of the thorns of this plant- "This is one of the most viciously thorny things in the vegetable kingdom!" (source)
The Devil's Walkingstick has also been documented for its uses as a folk medicine- however- it is also listed as being a plant with some toxicity. The Floridata website reports that the berries are mildly toxic if eaten. Skin contact with the bark and/or roots has also been reported to cause some mild skin irritation.