Significance Of The Devil's Club

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THE ETHNOBOTANICAL SIGNIFICANCE OF DEVIL’S CLUB Throughout its range in the Pacific Northwest, this fiercely spiked shrub is considered to be the most important medicinal plant amongst the First Nations people who live there. The devil’s club, Oplopanax horridus, is highly valued by the indigenous people wherever it is found and has innumerable uses. Traditionally, it has been used medicinally both topically and orally for a wide variety of maladies as well as a general tonic. Additionally, it is a very significant plant spiritually and plays an important role in ceremony and rituals. It is also highly valued for specific material purposes. While the young shoots are edible, it is not considered to be a food plant, instead it is recognized for its many therapeutic benefits. Despite the widespread popularity amongst First Nations people, however, and while “at least some of the traditional remedies involving devil’s-club may have a sound biochemical basis (Turner, 1982, p. 17)”, it hasn’t been widely used at this stage in the modern commercial market. There is ongoing research to determine its potential benefit for commercial pharmacological use, and there is some concern for what the implications of this could be for this slow-growing, sensitive shrub. DESCRIPTION AND LOCATION According to Daniel Moerman’s research in “Plant use by Native Americans”, First Nations people use devil’s club for 128 different purposes (p. 12), which makes it one of the most
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