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Zanthoxylum clava-herculis

Zanthoxylum clava-herculis
Hercules club; southern prickly ash
Zanthoxylum clava-herculis

Common name Hercules club; southern prickly ash
Family rutaceae
Life cycle tree (Z7b-9)
Flowers inconspicuous, yellow-green (early spring)
Size 30-40'
Light sun
Cultural notes drought tolerant

Large shrub or small tree in the citrus family, native to the southeastern United States. Young branches are thorny, while on older trees the trunk develops warty projections that give the tree its common name. The species is dioecious; we didn't know if we purchased a boy or a girl, but it must be female: the following spring the flowers gave way to small fruit. The tree is a larval host to the giant swallowtail butterfly, which I finally spotted on this plant after four years in the garden.

Hercules club; southern prickly ash
Mid-March: a little later to come back in spring than most other trees...
Zanthoxylum clava-herculis
...but once it does, it doesn't waste any time: flower buds a week later
Hercules club; southern prickly ash
Following insignificant flowers, little green fruits like miniature limes
Zanthoxylum clava-herculis
Softly fuzzy new woody growth
Hercules club; southern prickly ash
Earliest sign of regrowth, mid-March 2019
Zanthoxylum clava-herculis
A giant swallowtail caterpillar – not nearly as pretty as its mom
Hercules club; southern prickly ash
Five years in the garden, and indeed the lower trunk is starting to develop more warty protrusions and fewer thorns – but the ones that remain are vicious!

In our garden, this plant grows in the following area: left fence border

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Last modified: May 01, 2022
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