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Oplopanax horridus


Oplopanax horridus


No documentation

Vernacular Name

Cukilanarpak, devil’s club, devils walking stick.


Oplopanax horridus has been used both medicinally and as a food. Because of its beautiful red berries, O. horridus is sought after as an addition to wetland gardens, however, the plant is difficult to grow and is covered in sharp thorns.

Reaching heights of no more than 1.5m, O. horridus is identified by the spines and spikes that densely cover the light green or light brown twigs and barks. Not only are the spikes of O. horridus very sharp and dense throughout the underside of the plant, but they are also considered to have irritant properties.  The stems grow to be roughly 2.5cm in diameter, the leaves to a width of 30-35cm, and the fruit, which is red in color, grows to 5-7cm and grows in clusters.

Origin / Habitat

O. horridus is a deciduous shrub native to cool forests and moist, rich soils of the northwestern quadrant of the North America, ranging from Montana and Idaho northwest to Alaska. The shrub also exists in parts of Michigan and Ontario. O. horridus creates a safe habitat by starting clonal colonies.  Though many different plants can be found in these colonies, they are often genetically identical, having spawned from one original plant.

Chemical Constituents

Trans-nerolidol, polyynes (Oplopandiol Acetate), Beta-sitosterol, daucosterol, L-rhamnose, syringing.[1],[2],[3],[4]

Plant Part Used

Bark, Root, Berries

Medicinal Uses




Skin Irritations







Most Frequently Reported Uses



Skin Irritations



Dosage Range 

Tea: 1-3g of crude herb (root or bark) steeped in 8 ounces of boiling water up to three times per day.

Powdered Root: 100-200mg daily.

Tincture: 1-4mL, up to four times daily.

Most Common Dosage 

Tincture: 2mL twice daily.

Standardization Dosage

No standardization known.



An ethanolic extract of O. horridus root bark powder was found to significantly reduce nitric oxide production in leukaemic monocyte macrophage cell lines (RAW 264.7 cells) demonstrating anti-proliferative activity as well as strong antioxidant activity.[5]

In an antiviral screening of 100 medicinal plants from the British Columbia area, several were found to have antiviral properties including a methanolic extract of O. horridus, which demonstrated moderate activity against respiratory syncytial virus.[6]

A laboratory analysis identified Oplopandiol acetate 1, as the chemical constituent found in O. horridus to be at least partially responsible for its anti-Candida, antibacterial, and antimycobacterial activity.[4]


At this time, there are not any published clinical studies.

Interaction and Depletions

Interaction with other Herbs

No documentation

Interaction with Drugs

No documentation

Precautions and Contraindications

Side effects

Due to the limited use of this herb currently, there is inadequate science available for a full review of its actions and properties. Consequently there are no reports of interactions or contraindications that would alert the user. However, standard herbal precautions should apply.


Not to be used by pregnant or nursing women, (even though traditional use has included this herb as a lactation aid).

Age limitation

Not to be used by children unless directed by a healthcare professional.

Adverse reaction

No documentation

Read More

  1)  Native America Herbs


  1. Zhang HG, Wu GX, Zhang YM. [Chemical constituents from stems of Oplopanax elatus Nakai]. Zhongguo Zhong yao za zhi = Zhongguo zhongyao zazhi = China journal of Chinese materia medica. Feb 1993;18(2):104-127.
  2. Gruber JW, Kittipongpatana N, Bloxton JD 2nd, Der Marderosian A, Schaefer FT, Gibbs R. High-performance liquid chromatography and thin-layer chromatography assays for Devil's Club (Oplopanax horridus). J Chromatogr Sci. Apr 2004;42(4):196-199.
  3. Kobaisy M, Abramowski Z, Lermer L, Saxena G, Hancock RE, Towers GH, Doxsee D, Stokes RW. Antimycobacterial polyynes of Devil's Club (Oplopanax horridus), a North American native medicinal plant. J Nat Prod. Nov 1997;60(11):1210-1213.
  4. Xu L, Wu XH, Zheng GR, Cai JC.First Total Synthesis of Optically Active Oplopandiol Acetate, a Potent Antimycobacterial Polyyne Isolated from Oplopanax horridus. Chin Chem Let V. 2000; 11(3):213-216.
  5. Tai J, Cheung S, Cheah S, Chan E, Hasman D.In vitro anti-proliferative and antioxidant studies on Devil's Club Oplopanax horridus. J Ethnopharmacol. 24 Nov 2006;108(2):228-235.
  6. McCutcheon AR, Roberts TE, Gibbons E, Ellis SM, Babiuk LA, Hancock RE, Towers GH.Antiviral screening of British Columbian medicinal plants. J Ethnopharmacol. 1 Dec 1995;49(2):101-110.

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