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Zanthoxylum simulans - Hance.

Common Name Szechuan Pepper, Chinese-pepper, Prickly Ash
Family Rutaceae
USDA hardiness 5-8
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Virgin wilds, hillsides and open woods[147].
Range E. Asia - China.
Edibility Rating    (3 of 5)
Other Uses    (0 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (2 of 5)
Care (info)
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Full shade Semi-shade Full sun
Zanthoxylum simulans Szechuan Pepper, Chinese-pepper, Prickly Ash

Zanthoxylum simulans Szechuan Pepper, Chinese-pepper, Prickly Ash


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Bloom Color: Red. Form: Rounded, Vase.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of shrub
Zanthoxylum simulans is a deciduous Shrub growing to 4 m (13ft) by 6 m (19ft) at a medium rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 6. It is in flower in June, and the seeds ripen in October. The species is dioecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but only one sex is to be found on any one plant so both male and female plants must be grown if seed is required). . The plant is not self-fertile.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils. It can grow in full shade (deep woodland) semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Zanthoxylum acanthophyllum. Zanthoxylum argyi. Zanthoxylum podocarpum

Plant Habitats

Woodland Garden Sunny Edge; Dappled Shade; Shady Edge; not Deep Shade;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts:
Edible Uses: Condiment

The fruit is dried and used as a condiment[46, 61, 105, 177]. A pepper flavour, it is stronger and more pungent than black pepper[183]. It can be used whole or ground into a powder and used as a table seasoning[183]. A light roasting brings out more of the flavour[206]. It is an ingredient of the famous Chinese 'five spice' mixture[206].

References   More on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.
Anodyne  Anthelmintic  Antidote  Antiphlogistic  Astringent  Carminative  Diaphoretic  Digestive  
Diuretic  Emmenagogue  Stimulant  Stomachic  Tonic  Vasodilator

Astringent, diaphoretic, emmenagogue[116, 178]. The pericarp is anaesthetic, diuretic, parasiticide and vasodilator[176]. It is used in the treatment of gastralgia and dyspepsia due to cold with vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal pain, ascariasis and dermal diseases[176]. It has a local anaesthetic action and is parasiticide against the pork tapeworm (Taenia solium)[176]. The pericarp contains geraniol. In small doses this has a mild diuretic action, though large doses will inhibit the excretion of urine[176]. There is a persistent increase in peristalsis at low concentration, but inhibition at high concentration[176]. The leaves are carminative, stimulant and sudorific[147, 218]. The fruit is carminative, diuretic, stimulant, stomachic and tonic[147, 218]. The seed is antiphlogistic and diuretic[218]. A decoction of the root is digestive and also used in the treatment of snakebites[218]. The resin contained in the bark, and especially in that of the roots, is powerfully stimulant and tonic[82].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses

None known

Special Uses

Food Forest  Scented Plants

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Landscape Uses:Border, Massing. Easily grown in loamy soils in most positions, but prefers a good deep well-drained moisture retentive soil in full sun or semi-shade[1, 11, 200]. A plant has been growing well for many years in deep woodland shade at Cambridge Botanical gardens, it was fruiting heavily in autumn 1996[K]. Cultivated for its seed, which is used as a condiment in China[46, 61]. Flowers are formed on the old wood[206]. The bruised leaves are strongly aromatic[245]. Dioecious. Male and female plants must be grown if seed is required. Special Features:Inconspicuous flowers or blooms, Blooms appear periodically throughout the year.

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

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Plant Propagation

Seed - best sown in a greenhouse as soon as it is ripe in the autumn. Stored seed may requires up to 3 months cold stratification, though scarification may also help[113]. Sow stored seed in a cold frame as early in the year as possible. Germination should take place in late spring, though it might take another 12 months. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow them on in a cold frame for their first winter. Plant them out in early summer. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, July/August in a frame. Root cuttings, 3cm long, planted horizontally in pots in a greenhouse. Good percentage[78]. Suckers, removed in late winter and planted into their permanent positions[113].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Asia, Australia, China, Japan, Taiwan,

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther
Zanthoxylum ailanthoides Tree18.0 8-11  LMHSNM21 
Zanthoxylum alatumWinged Prickly AshShrub4.0 5-9  LMHSNM323
Zanthoxylum americanumPrickly Ash - Northern, Common pricklyash, Northern Prickly AshShrub4.0 3-7 MLMHSNM232
Zanthoxylum beecheyanum Shrub0.8 -  LMHSNM21 
Zanthoxylum bungeanum Shrub6.0 -  LMHSNM23 
Zanthoxylum clava-herculisHercules Club. Prickly Ash - Southern, Hercules' club, Southern Prickly AshShrub3.0 7-11 MLMHSNM232
Zanthoxylum coreanum Shrub0.0 -  LMHSNM11 
Zanthoxylum nitidum Climber0.0 -  LMHSNM021
Zanthoxylum piperitumJapanese Pepper TreeShrub2.0 5-9  LMHSNM321
Zanthoxylum planispinumWinged Prickly AshShrub3.5 5-9  LMHSNM32 
Zanthoxylum schinifoliumPeppertreeShrub4.0 5-9  LMHSNM220

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


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Botanical References


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Readers comment

Klaus Dichtel   Sun Jan 19 18:20:13 2003

In spring `01 we planted 3, each about 50cm high. Only one survived the first winter (lowest temperature -17°), though it is said here that it is hardy in zone 6 and we`ve got 8. This is why I presume zanthoxylum s. needs more continental climate than we`ve got here (maybe 3-4).

Ken Fern   Thu Jan 30 11:34:20 2003

Dear Klaus

Thanks for the note about Zanthoxylum simulans. I'm surprised that you say you are in climatic zone 8 if you get winter temperatures down to -20 ºC - according to the climatic zones chart we use zone 8 denotes areas with mild winters where temperatures rarely drop below about -5ºC. Your winter temperatures denote climatic zone 6. Could you possibly let me know which guide to the climatic zones you are using since there does seem to be some confusion here!

As regards the winter hardiness of Zanthoxylum simulans - like most plants, it gets hardier as it gets older. In its first few years of life it is much more likely to be damaged by cold temperatures that go down near to its climatic tolerance. As you also pointed out, it does prefer a more continental climate with its hotter summers which ripens the wood of the plant better and thus allows it to tolerate colder conditions.

Even here in mild Cornwall, where it is unusual to get temperatures lower than -5ºC, we often get a lot of winter damage to the young shoots of trees and shrubs due to a lack of ripening of the wood. In fact in our first few years here, before our wind-protection hedges could get established, even the new plantings of supposedly hardy native plants such as the oak suffered severe damage to their shoots during the winter. They generally recovered well in the spring, only to suffer severe die back the following winter. It was 5 years before they really managed to get going!

Thanks also for the notes about the other plants - such comments are of great help to us. Happy gardening

Love and Peace


   May 15 2011 12:00AM

i planted seeds of Z. simulans from a spice store many years ago. i only got one plant but it has produced viable seeds several times. if it's a female i dont know where its pollen is coming from. i am in zone 5 iowa. its hardy here but if i leave it out all winter lots of upper branches die back so i keep it in a 44 F garage while dormant Ric

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