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Zanthoxylum hirsutum (Texas hercules' club)
Lytle, Melody

Zanthoxylum hirsutum

Zanthoxylum hirsutum Buckley

Texas Hercules' Club, Texas Prickly Ash, Limetone Prickly Ash, Toothache Tree, Tickle-tongue, Tingle-tongue

Rutaceae (Rue Family)

Synonym(s): Zanthoxylum clava-herculis var. fruticosum

USDA Symbol: ZAHI2

USDA Native Status: L48 (N)

A prickly shrub, sometimes a small tree. Crushed leaves have an odor suggestive of orange peel. Found in open areas and at the edges of woodlands. Branches with prickles resembling those of a rosebush. Leaves with paired glossy leaflets along an axis bearing small prickles. Leaflets up to 1 1/2 inches long, the margins with glands in the notches between the rounded teeth. Flowers small, greenish, in clusters at the ends of branchlets. Fruit spherical, 1/4 inch in diameter, reddish brown when ripe.


From the Image Gallery

23 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Tree
Leaf Retention: Deciduous
Fruit Type: Capsule
Size Notes: Up to about 15 feet tall.
Flower: Flowers in 2 inch clusters.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Yellow , Green
Bloom Time: Mar , Apr , May


Native Habitat: Chaparral & brush country

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Low
Light Requirement: Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Dry
Soil Description: Sandy, Sandy Loam, Medium Loam, Clay Loam, Clay, Caliche type, Limestone-based, Calcareous.


Use Ornamental: Fall conspicuous, Aromatic, Shortgrass meadow
Use Wildlife: Fruit-birds.
Use Food: Fruit edible, with a lemon zest taste that first tingles, then numbs in the mouth, similar to the Szechuan peppers used in Chinese cuisine. Szechuan peppers are also from a Zanthoxylum species. The leaves have a similar but less intense taste and effect.
Use Medicinal: Bark, leaves, and fruit all numb the mouth and have been used to treat mouth pain, including toothache, hence its common name, Toothache Tree.
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Attracts: Butterflies
Larval Host: Giant swallowtail butterfly.

Butterflies and Moths of North America (BAMONA)

Giant Swallowtail
(Papilio cresphontes)

Larval Host
Learn more at BAMONA


Propagation Material: Root Cuttings

Mr. Smarty Plants says

Edible plants native to Austin, TX
August 05, 2009
Hello, I am a chef from Buenos Aires Argentina visiting Austin, Texas and would like to learn about native, edible plants in the region. Please let me know if there are any native, edible plants...
view the full question and answer

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:

Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center - Austin, TX
Brackenridge Field Laboratory - Austin, TX
Patsy Glenn Refuge, c/o Wimberley Birding Society - Wimberley, TX
Stengl Biological Research Station - Smithville, TX
NPSOT - Austin Chapter - Austin, TX
NPSOT - Williamson County Chapter - Georgetown, TX

Herbarium Specimen(s)

NPSOT 0753 Collected Apr 10, 1994 in Comal County by Mary Beth White

1 specimen(s) available in the Digital Herbarium

Wildflower Center Seed Bank

LBJWC-755 Collected 2006-07-19 in Travis County by Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

1 collection(s) available in the Wildflower Center Seed Bank


Bibref 946 - Gardening with Prairie Plants: How to Create Beautiful Native Landscapes (2002) Wasowski, Sally
Bibref 354 - Native & Naturalized Woody Plants of Austin & the Hill Country (1981) Lynch, D.
Bibref 318 - Native Texas Plants: Landscaping Region by Region (2002) Wasowski, S. & A. Wasowski
Bibref 297 - Trees of Central Texas (1984) Vines, Robert A.

Search More Titles in Bibliography

Web Reference

Webref 23 - Southwest Environmental Information Network (2009) SEINet - Arizona Chapter

Additional resources

USDA: Find Zanthoxylum hirsutum in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Zanthoxylum hirsutum in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Zanthoxylum hirsutum


Record Modified: 2023-05-16
Research By: TWC Staff

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