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ZANTHOXYLUM americanum

Image of Zanthoxylum americanum

Jesse Saylor

Family

Rutaceae

Botanical Name

ZANTHOXYLUM americanum

Plant Common Name

Common Pricklyash

General Description

This prickly, suckering large shrub from moist woods of central and eastern North America was once valued as a medicinal plant. It has little ornamental merit.

The glossy, aromatic, pinnately compound leaves of common pricklyash emerge in early to mid-spring, soon after its tiny greenish-yellow flowers appear. The leaves have 5 to 11 elliptic to oval leaflets and are alternately borne along the spiny gray branches. Male and female flowers occur on separate plants, with female plants producing red warty berry-like fruits containing one or two large black seeds. Plants often spread by underground suckers to form extensive thickets.

This hardy shrub thrives in moist, fertile soil in full or partial sun. Plant it where its spines and suckering habit will not be a nuisance. Use common pricklyash in naturalistic plantings within its native range. This shrub has numerous medicinal properties and may pose health risks: see http://healthlibrary.epnet.com/GetContent.aspx?token=e0498803-7f62-4563-8d47-5fe33da65dd4&chunkiid=111794 .

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    8 - 1

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    3 - 8

  • Plant Type

    Shrub

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun, Partial Sun, Partial Shade, Full Shade

  • Height

    10'-25' / 3.0m - 7.6m

  • Width

    10'-25' / 3.0m - 7.6m

  • Bloom Time

    Spring

  • Native To

    Northeastern United States, Mid-Atlantic United States, Southeastern United States, Central United States, Canada

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral

  • Soil Drainage

    Average

  • Soil type

    Clay, Loam, Sand

  • Growth Rate

    Slow

  • Water Requirements

    Average Water

  • Habit

    Thicket/Colonizing

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Insignificant

  • Flower Color

    Yellow Green

  • Fruit Color

    Red, Orange Red

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Yellow Green

  • Bark Color

    Gray

  • Fragrant Flowers

    Yes

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    Yes

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    Yes

  • Flower Petal Number

    Single

  • Repeat Bloomer

    No

  • Showy Fruit

    No

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    No

  • Foliage Texture

    Medium

  • Foliage Sheen

    Glossy

  • Evergreen

    No

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Bark Texture

    Smooth

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    Yes

  • Invasive

    Sometimes

  • Self-Sowing

    Yes