Zanthoxylum piperitum - Japanese Pepper Tree


  • Seeds 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. This plant is a medium sized shrub, easy to grow, drought tolerant and not fussy to soil conditions. 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). It is dioecious, therefore you need a male and female plant for fruits - we send 2 plants to get a better chance of both sexes. 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:   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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