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Zanthoxylum bungeanum - Large Fruited Sechuan Pepper Tree


  • Several species are called Sechuan Pepper, as many are used as a herb according to their distribution zone. It is a medium sized shrub, easy to grow, drought tolerant and not fussy to soil conditions. Seeds of this plant is used as a pepper substitute in the Far East, but also the fruits and leaves, even its bark is used as a condiment. An unusually thorny shrub with composed leaves and numerous small, red fruits that show a black shiny seed when opening in the Autumn. The foliage turns a spectacular orange and yellow during the Autumn. Its spines don't die but grow with the plant, becoming a showy feature on the trunk of older plants (with a 4-5cm long base). Somewhat dioecious, therefore you need male and female plant for viable seeds, but most plants will fruit even if the seeds are not viable, not an issue as you use the seed pods for pepper. It is suitable for smaller gardens, by a wall or in a border but also good for the patio if grown in a container. This plant also makes a good bonsai.

  • Other common names: Japanese Prickly Ash

  • Native to: North China, Japan and Korea

  • Family: Rutaeae (Citrus Family)

  • Habit (UK conditions): medium sized, rounded shrub

  • Growth rate: medium

  • Typical size in 10 years: 3m x 2m

  • Main value:Autumn coloration, fruits, spines

  • Flower colour: creamy (not significant)

  • Flowering period: May - June

  • Autumn coloration: shades of orange and yellow

  • Preferences: grows best in full sun, on any soil with god drainage (drought tolerant)

  • Hardiness: hardy to about -15C


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