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Zanthoxylum (including genus Fagara) is a genus of about 250 species of deciduous and evergreen trees and shrubs in the citrus or rue family, Rutaceae, native to warm temperate and subtropical areas worldwide. Several of the species have yellow heartwood, to which their generic name alludes.[3]

The fruit of several species is used to make the spice, Sichuan pepper. They are also used as bonsai trees. Historically, the bark was widely used for toothache, colic, and rheumatism.[4] Common names include "prickly ash" and "Hercules club".

Selected species[edit]

(syn. Fagara ailanthoides (Sieb. & Zucc.) Engler[6])
(cf. syn under Z.armatum)
(syn. Z. planispinum Sieb. & Zucc.; Z. alatum sensu Forbes & Hemsley, Rehder & Wilson, non Roxburgh; Z. alatum var. planispinum Rehder & Wilson[6])
Zanthoxylum clava-herculis Fruits and foliage
Z. piperitum Fruits and seeds
Z. rhetsa bark in Pakke Tiger Reserve
Leafless Z. simulans showing its knobbed bark
(syn. Fagara mantchurica (J.Benn. ex Daniell) Honda, F. schinifolia (Seib. & Zucc.) Engl.)[12]

Formerly placed here[edit]


The generic name is derived from Greek words ξανθὸς (xanthos), meaning "yellow," and ξύλον (xylon), meaning "wood." It refers to a yellow dye made from the roots of some species.[16] The Takhtajan system places the genus in the subfamily Rutoideae, tribe Zanthoxyleae,[17] while Germplasm Resources Information Network places it in the subfamily Toddalioideae and does not assign it to a tribe.[1] The once separate genus Fagara is now included in Zanthoxylum.[18]


Many Zanthoxylum species make excellent bonsai and in temperate climates they can be grown quite well indoors. Zanthoxylum beecheyanum and Zanthoxylum piperitum are two species commonly grown as bonsai.

Culinary use[edit]

See also: Sichuan pepper

Spices are made from a number of species in this genus, especially Zanthoxylum piperitum, Z. simulans, Z. bungeanum, Z. schinifolium Z. nitidum, Z. rhetsa, Z. alatum, and Z. acanthopodium. Sichuan pepper is most often made by grinding the husks that surround Z. piperitum berries.[19] In the states of Maharashtra, Karnataka, and Goa in Western India, the berries of Z. rhetsa are sun-dried and added to foods such as legumes and fish. Because the trees bear fruit during the monsoon season, the berries are associated with the concurrent Krishna Janmashtami festival.[20]

It is called timur or timbur in Nepal, Darjeeling, and Sikkim and is used widely to make a tingling dip, especially for boiled food like potatoes and yams.


Plants in the genus Zanthoxylum contain the lignan sesamin.

Species identified in Nigeria contains several types of alkaloids including benzophenanthridines (nitidine, dihydronitidine, oxynitidine, fagaronine, dihydroavicine, chelerythrine, dihydrochelerythrine, methoxychelerythrine, norchelerythrine, oxychelerythrine, decarine and fagaridine), furoquinolines (dictamine, 8-methoxydictamine, skimmianine, 3-dimethylallyl-4-methoxy-2-quinolone), carbazoles (3-methoxycarbazole, glycozoline), aporphines (berberine, tembetarine, magnoflorine, M-methyl-corydine), canthinones (6-canthinone), acridones (1-hydroxy-3-methoxy-10-methylacridon-9-one, 1-hydroxy-10-methylacridon-9-one, zanthozolin), and aromatic and aliphatic amides.[21] Hydroxy-alpha sanshool is a bioactive component of plants from the Zanthoxylum genus, including the Sichuan pepper.


Zanthoxylum species are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including the Engrailed (moth).


  1. ^ a b c "Genus: Zanthoxylum L.". Germplasm Resources Information Network. US Department of Agriculture. 2008-03-21. Retrieved 2010-06-21. 
  2. ^ "!Zanthoxylum L.". TROPICOS. Missouri Botanical Garden. Retrieved 2010-02-26. 
  3. ^ Thomas, Val; Grant, Rina (2001). Sappi tree spotting: Highlands: Highveld, Drakensberg, Eastern Cape mountains. illustrations: Joan van Gogh; photographs: Jaco Adendorff (3rd ed.). Johannesburg: Jacana. p. 260. ISBN 978-1-77009-561-8. 
  4. ^ Wilbur, C. Keith, MD. Revolutionary Medicine 1700-1800. The Globe Pequot Press. Page 23. 1980.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g Zhang & Hartley 2008
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Hu 2005, vol.1, pp.503-5
  7. ^ given in zh:花椒, retrieved from (2011.12.20 11:55) version
  8. ^ Stuart & Smith 1985,p.462gives 食菜萸 but probably mistyped since this is not pronounced Wade–Giles: Shih-chu-yü
  9. ^
  10. ^ Bone. A proposal for rare plant rescue: Zanthoxylum paniculatum, endemic to Rodrigues
  11. ^ Allen, Gary (2007). The Herbalist in the Kitchen. University of Illinois Press. p. 389. ISBN 978-0-252-03162-5. 
  12. ^ a b Blaschek, Hänsel & Keller 1998, Hagers Handbuch, vol.3, p.832 (gives Jp. inu-zansho)
  13. ^ "Subordinate taxa of !Zanthoxylum L.". TROPICOS. Missouri Botanical Garden. Retrieved 2010-02-26. 
  14. ^ "Zanthoxylum". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved 2010-02-25. 
  15. ^ a b "GRIN Species records of Zanthoxylum". Germplasm Resources Information Network. United States Department of Agriculture. Retrieved 2010-11-29. 
  16. ^ Quattrocchi, Umberto (2000). CRC World Dictionary of Plant Names. IV R-Z. Taylor & Francis US. p. 2868. ISBN 978-0-8493-2678-3. 
  17. ^ Takhtajan, Armen (2009). Flowering Plants (2 ed.). Springer. p. 375. ISBN 978-1-4020-9608-2. 
  18. ^ Beurton, C. (1994). "Gynoecium and perianth in Zanthoxylum s.l. (Rutaceae)". Plant Systematics and Evolution 189: 165–191. doi:10.1007/bf00939724. 
  19. ^ Peter, K. V. (2004). Handbook of Herbs and Spices 2. Woodhead Publishing. pp. 98–99. ISBN 978-1-85573-721-1. 
  20. ^ Bharadwaj, Monisha (2006). Indian Spice Kitchen. Hippocrene Books. pp. 82–83. ISBN 978-0-7818-1143-9. 
  21. ^ The Nigerian Zanthoxylum; Chemical and biological values. S. K. Adesina, Afr. J. Trad. CAM, 2005, volume 2, issue 3, pages 282-301 (article)



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