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Zanthoxylum simulans - Chinese Pepper Tree, Rare herb


  • The Sechuan / Sichuan Pepper is for the plant hunters who aren’t afraid of adding a bit of quirkiness to their garden or patio. Not only are the fragrant fruit husks enjoyed in cooking, but their quirky appearance with their alligator-skin like bark and yellow to pink autumn colours are impossible to ignore.

    Very similar to the Japanese Pepper tree, but the Chinese Pepper Tree is native to China. The seed pods of this plant are used as a pepper substitute in the Far East but also the fruits and leaves, even its bark are 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. Zanthoxylum simulans is a medium sized shrub, easy to grow, drought tolerant and not fussy to soil conditions. The foliage turns a spectacular orange and yellow in 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). One plant usually fruits well, but even better if you have several planted close to each other. It is suitable for smaller gardens, by a wall or in a border, but also good for the patio if grown in a container. It also makes a good bonsai.

Other common names:  Chinese Prickly Ash
Native to:     North to Central China
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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