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Zanthoxylum clava-herculis

Copyright by: George D. Gann

General Landscape Uses: Primarily recommended for natural landscapes and habitat restorations.

Availability: Grown by enthusiasts and occasionally by native plant nurseries.

Description: Small to medium tree or large shrub with a rounded, spreading crown. Trunks short to 18 inches in diameter, but usually much less. Bark light gray, roughened by numerous cone-like warts bearing long, sharp brown spines. Leaves temperate deciduous, compound, aromatic, shiny green above, to about 8 inches in length.

Dimensions: Typically 10-20 feet in height in South Florida; to 65 feet in Florida. Often as broad as tall.

Growth Rate: Moderate.

Range: Southeastern United States west to Texas and south to Miami-Dade and Lee counties. Very rare in Broward County; known only from the area in and around Hugh Taylor Birch State Park. Also rare in Miami-Dade County, where confined to barrier islands and sandy areas north of the Miami River. For a digitized image of Elbert Little's Florida range map, visit the Exploring Florida website. Little's map exagerates the range of this inland in southeastern Florida.

Plant Map Map of select IRC data from peninsular Florida.

 Map of suggested ZIP codes from South Florida north to southern Brevard, Osceola, Polk, and Pasco counties.

 Map of ZIP codes with habitat recommendations from the Monroe County Keys north to Martin and Charlotte counties.

Habitats: Hammocks and coastal thickets.

Soils: Moist, well-drained sandy soils, with humusy top layer.

Nutritional Requirements: Moderate to low; it prefers soils with organic content, but will still grow reasonably well in nutrient poor soils.

Salt Water Tolerance: Low; does not tolerate long-term flooding by salt or brackish water.

Salt Wind Tolerance: Moderate; grows near salt water, but is protected from direct salt spray by other vegetation.

Drought Tolerance: High; does not require any supplemental water once established.

Light Requirements: Full sun to light shade.

Flower Color: Greenish-yellow.

Flower Characteristics: Inconspicuous. Flowers unisexual.

Flowering Season: Spring-summer.

Fruit: Small subglobose glandular-punctate follicles.

Wildlife and Ecology: Provides moderate amounts of food and cover for wildlife. Larval host plant for giant swallowtail (Papilio cresphontes) butterflies.

Horticultural Notes: Can be grown from seed removed from the outer coating. Scatter seeds over soil and barely cover.

References: Schaefer & Tanner 1997

Comments: Spiny.

Copyright by: George D. Gann

Copyright by: Shirley Denton

Copyright by: Shirley Denton

Copyright by: Shirley Denton

Copyright by: Don & Joyce Gann

Copyright by: Jay Horn via iNaturalist.

Copyright by: Jay Horn via iNaturalist.

Other data on Zanthoxylum clava-herculis available from:

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