Zanthoxylum americanum


This native shrub forms thickets up to 12 feet tall (A,B). The light gray stems are armed with stout spines and red buds during winter (C). Its compound leaves have 5-11 elliptic or ovate leaflets, about 3 inches long (A). Male and female flower clusters are on separate plants; they appear before the leaves. The female flowers are green with reddish tips (E). the male flowers have prominent, yellow stamens (D). The fruit is a rough red follicle which releases a shiny black seed in August (F).

Grows along roadsides and streams, flowering in early April. In Fontenelle Forest, common along Stream Trail. At Neale Woods, rare along Jonas Trail.

The bruised leaves have a citrus smell. Local Native Americans chewed the leaves and bark to relieve toothaches, hence the other common name: Toothache Tree.

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