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Toxic parts

The plant is densely armed with spikes and these spikes are irritant[1]. Although no specific mention has been seen for this plant, it belongs to a genus where the species are usually rich in calcium oxylate, this is toxic and if consumed makes the mouth and digestive tract feel as though hundreds of needles are being stuck into it. However, calcium oxylate is easily destroyed by thoroughly cooking or drying the plant.

Edible uses


Young shoots - peeled and then cooked[2][3][4][5]. Only the very young shoots are used[6]. The roots can be chewed after peeling[4][5][7].


Material uses

There are no material uses listed for Oplopanax japonicus.

Medicinal uses(Warning!)

The root bark and stems are analgesic, antiphlogistic, antirheumatic, hypoglycaemic and tonic[6].


Ecosystem niche/layer

Ecological Functions

Nothing listed.


Nothing listed.


Nothing listed.


Seed - best sown in a cold frame as soon as it is ripe in the autumn[1]. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts.

Division of suckers in the dormant season.

Root cuttings in a greenhouse in the winter[8].

Practical Plants is currently lacking information on propagation instructions of Oplopanax japonicus. Help us fill in the blanks! Edit this page to add your knowledge.


Requires a cool moist soil[9][1]. Prefers a position in light shade[10]. Prefers dense shade and is probably best if grown in moist woodland[11][9]. Tolerates maritime exposure[1]. (Rather a strange report for a plant that needs to be grown in dense shade[K])

A very hardy plant, tolerating temperatures down to at least -15°c, but the young shoots in spring can be damaged by late frosts[9][1]. It is therefore best not grown in a frost pocket[10]. This species used to be included in O. horridus as the Japanese form of that species, but it has recently (1991) been recognised as a distinct species[1]. A very ornamental plant, but it is densely armed with spikes[12]. It transplants easily and also tolerates pruning[1].

The leaves and stems are excessively spiny[10].


Problems, pests & diseases

Associations & Interactions

There are no interactions listed for Oplopanax japonicus. Do you know of an interaction that should be listed here? edit this page to add it.

Polycultures & Guilds

There are no polycultures listed which include Oplopanax japonicus.




None listed.


None listed.

Full Data

This table shows all the data stored for this plant.

Binomial name
Oplopanax japonicus
Imported References
Edible uses
Medicinal uses
Material uses & Functions
Edible uses
None listed.
Material uses
None listed.
Medicinal uses
None listed.
Functions & Nature
Provides forage for
Provides shelter for
Hardiness Zone
Heat Zone
partial sun
permanent shade
Soil PH
Soil Texture
Soil Water Retention
Environmental Tolerances
  • Strong wind
  • Maritime exposure
Native Climate Zones
None listed.
Adapted Climate Zones
None listed.
Native Geographical Range
None listed.
Native Environment
None listed.
Ecosystem Niche
None listed.
Root Zone Tendancy
None listed.
Deciduous or Evergreen
Herbaceous or Woody
Life Cycle
Growth Rate
Mature Size
3 x meters
Flower Colour
Flower Type


  1. ? Huxley. A. The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992. MacMillan Press ISBN 0-333-47494-5 (1992-00-00)
  2. ? 2.02.1 Uphof. J. C. Th. Dictionary of Economic Plants. Weinheim (1959-00-00)
  3. ? 3.03.1 Usher. G. A Dictionary of Plants Used by Man. Constable ISBN 0094579202 (1974-00-00)
  4. ? Tanaka. T. Tanaka's Cyclopaedia of Edible Plants of the World. Keigaku Publishing (1976-00-00)
  5. ? Coon. N. The Dictionary of Useful Plants. Rodale Press ISBN 0-87857-090-x (1975-00-00)
  6. ? Schofield. J. J. Discovering Wild Plants - Alaska, W. Canada and the Northwest. ()
  7. ? 7.07.1 Yanovsky. E. Food Plants of the N. American Indians. Publication no. 237. U.S. Depf of Agriculture. ()
  8. ? Brickell. C. The RHS Gardener's Encyclopedia of Plants and Flowers Dorling Kindersley Publishers Ltd. ISBN 0-86318-386-7 (1990-00-00)
  9. ? Bean. W. Trees and Shrubs Hardy in Great Britain. Vol 1 - 4 and Supplement. Murray (1981-00-00)
  10. ? Thomas. G. S. Ornamental Shrubs, Climbers and Bamboos. Murray ISBN 0-7195-5043-2 (1992-00-00)
  11. ? F. Chittendon. RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956 Oxford University Press (1951-00-00)
  12. ? 12.012.1 Hitchcock. C. L. Vascular Plants of the Pacific Northwest. University of Washington Press (1955-00-00)

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