Japanese Angelica Tree

Common Name: Japanese Angelica Tree
Scientific Name: Aralia elata
Origin: East Asia


Japanese angelica tree is a fast growing deciduous tree that can reach 40 feet in height. The trunk and larger stems are covered with sharp spines. Leaves are compound and can grow up to four feet long. Each compound leaf may have up to 80 oval leaflets. The underside of each leaflet has a fine pubescence. Japanese angelica tree flowers in later summer, producing clusters of white 5 petaled flowers that ripen into round dark-purple or black fruits.

Japanese angelica tree is is commonly confused with its native look-alike devils walking stick (Aralia spinosa).


Japanese angelica tree can be found along forest edges or in canopy openings, along riparian corridors, and in forested wetlands. It is frequently encountered on disturbed sites and in urban areas.


Japanese angelica tree grows rapidly, adding up to 2 feet of growth each year. It forms dense thickets that exclude native plant species. Berries are readily consumed by birds and other wildlife, increasing the likelihood of long distance dispersal. Ornamental plantings are common, especially in urban areas, and can serve as a seed source for establishment and expansion into natural areas. Contact with Japanese angelica tree’s spiny trunk and branches may cause minor injury or irritation.

NYS Threat Ranking Assessment Score = Very High, 80.46


Small plants can managed by hand pulling or digging. However, aggressive root sprouting limits the effectiveness of mechanical treatment for larger plants. Mature individuals are best treated with a foliar spray or cut stump treatment using a glyphosate based herbicide.

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