Most are striking bold-leafed plants that may eventually grow to 2530 ft. tall under ideal conditions. Not for small gardens. Often shrublike and multistemmed (because of suckering habit), especially in colder areas, where they may grow just 10 ft. high. Clumps range from one-half to almost as wide as they are tall. Branches are nearly vertical or slightly spreading, usually very spiny. Huge leaves, clustered at ends of branches and divided into many leaflets, look quite exotic. White mid-summer flowers, small but in such large, branched clusters that they are showy, are followed by berrylike, purplish fruit that is enjoyed by birds.
Grow in well-drained soil. Not good near walkways because of spines; even leafstalks are sometimes prickly. Wind can burn the foliage, so provide a sheltered location. Need minimal pruning; dig out suckers to limit spread of clump.
A. cordata. UDO, JAPANESE SPIKENARD. Zones US, MS, LS; USDA 6-8. From Japan. To 6 ft. tall, half as wide. This species doesn't have spines; forms an attractive foliage mass of oval, unevenly toothed leaflets 26 in. long. In Asia, the young spring shoots are blanched and eaten. 'Sun King' (6 ft. tall, 3 ft. wide in partial sun) emerges lime green-gold in spring and remains all summer.
A. elata. ANGELICA TREE. Zones US, MS, LS; USDA 6-8. Native to Asia. Only moderately spiny. Leaves 23 ft. long, divided into toothed, stalkless, 2- to 6-in.-long leaflets. 'Variegata' has leaflets strikingly bordered with creamy white.
A. spinosa. HERCULES' CLUB, DEVIL'S WALKING STICK. Zones US, MS, LS, CS; USDA 6-9. Native to eastern U.S. Puts up several spiny, usually unbranched stems to 1020 ft. tall, each of them crowned by 2- to 6-ft.-long leaves. This is one of the most tropical-looking, hardy plants. Summer flowers and fall fruit are showy. 'Variegata' amplifies the impact with gray-green leaves edged in white.