Hercules'-club
Zanthoxylum clava-herculis

Secondary Names:
prickly-ash, prickly ash, tickle-tongue


Leaf Type: Deciduous
Texas Native:
Firewise:
hercules_club150.jpg
Tree Description:

A small tree, seldom over 30 feet in height, with a short trunk usually under 12" in diameter. Easily identified at a distance by the large, knobby warts on the trunk and branches.

Range/Site Description:

East and Central Texas to the valley of the Colorado River. It seems to prefer a well-drained, light, sandy soil, and is often found growing on bluffs near rivers, at the edge of woodlands, or along fencerows.

Leaf:

Alternate, once-compound, 5" to 8" long, with 7 to 17 leaflets, each 1" to 3" long, ovate or lanceolate, toothed, with several sharp prickles along the rachis.

Flower:

The small, pale green flowers are borne in loose, wideĀ­branched terminal clusters, 4" to 5" long, blooming in early spring after the leaves emerge.

Fruit:

Fruits ripen in early summer, producing a loose cluster of dark brown, one-seeded capsules. Once ripe, the valves open to expose the small seeds, which are quickly eaten by birds.

Bark:

Light gray, thin, and covered by many sizes of knobby prickles, shaped somewhat like crocodile teeth, as large as 2" in diameter and 1" tall.

Wood:

Soft, light brown, with no special value.

Similar Species:

Texas Hercules'-club (Z. hirsutum) has 5 smaller leaflets and occurs in Central Texas; lime pricklyash (Z. fagara) has tiny leaves with winged rachis and occurs more in South Texas and the coast.

Interesting Facts:

The twigs and inner bark can be chewed to produce numbness or a tingly feeling in the mouth, which was used as a home remedy to deaden toothache pain, giving the common names, "toothache-tree" or "tickle-tongue."

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