this is the root ball of a european buckthorn. if it looks devilish and dark, that may be coincidental, but it is certainly apropos. buckthorn is the bane of every hardwood forest in our region, dominating the understory of every untended woodlot, and driving out beloved natives with the relentlessness of its spread. if this were a horror movie, here is the scene where you see the monster for the first time, up close, dripping venom and slime, just begging to be killed by the hero.
buckthorn roots (Rhamnus)