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Kentucky Color: Prickly Ash, cloudy purple in fall

Little tree offers splash of color, but be warned: It isn't known as the Devil's Walking Stick for naught, as many a wounded hiker has found
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For the next earlier Kentucky Color, click on Poison Beauty

By Billy Joe Fudge, President, Homeplace on Green River, Inc.
6048 New Columbia Highway, Campbellsville, KY

Prickly Ash is best know by most coon hunters and at least one still wounded, ex-firefighter, as Devil's Walking-stick.

On the wooded slopes of our Kentucky hills most folks wandering around the forest at night will often seek the assistance of small saplings in ascending the steeper slopes.

Devil's Walking-stick stems are covered by the most vicious thorns in the thorn kingdom. They hide from even the most trained eye but are easily recognized once they begin to protrude through the back of the hand.This protrusion effect happens only milliseconds after the hand has gripped the stem to pull one's body up slope.

Prickly Ash has the distinction of having the one of the largest leaves in the United States. It is bi-pinnately compound which means that it is composed of leaflet covered stems growing from a main leaf stem. All but the seven reddish leaflets in the upper right edge of this photo are one leaf.

Prickly Ash rarely grows taller than 7 or 8 feet in height and only has leaves growing out of the very top.

For past Kentucky Color articles and photos, enter "Kentucky Color" in the searchbox. For other articles by Billy Joe Fudge, use his name or the BJ or B.J. Fudge variant, or search on "Great Wooded South."

This story was posted on 2009-10-09 03:22:58
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Kentucky Color: Prickly Ash with American Beech

2009-10-09 - Adair Co., KY - Photo by Billy Joe Fudge, President, Homeplace on Green River, Inc.. "This is the cloudy purple of Prickly Ash accented with a brilliant splash of American Beech yellow," writes Billy Joe Fudge. "In thelower right corner of this photo you can see that there are only two leaves growing out of the very top of this little tree."

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