You don’t want to grab, brush up against, run into, or use this as a walking stick, considering it’s covered in very strong spiny spikes. This helps protect the plant from various insect and mammalian predators. Not only is this kind of a dangerous shrub to run into, it can spread with runners, and can grow into dense thickets. No thank you!
However, as much as I don’t like this shrub for those reasons, it’s a boon for wildlife. Many insects such as bees, wasps, and butterflies love the flowers for both nectar and pollen. Birds and small mammals love the berries – I’ve also heard bears do as well.
Size: 10+ feet tall
Family: Araliaceae (Ginseng family)
Habitat: Moist to dry woods, along streams and riverbanks, forest edges and road banks.
Identification: A deciduous shrub / small tree with a trunk covered in large woody spines. Produces very large leaves that are highly divided into as many as 100 leaflets. At the top of the plant, small greenish white flowers cluster, which eventually develop into dark purple/black round berries (similar looking to elderberries). After the berries fall, the berry stem cluster can remain on the tree in the winter, appearing like a bunch of starbursts. Flowers June-September, fruits September - October.