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. It is the type genus of the tribe Zanthoxyleae in the subfamily Rutoideae. Several of the species have yellow heartwood, to which their generic name alludes.[3]

Starr 060325-6755 Zanthoxylum kauaense.jpg
Z. kauaense
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Rosids
Order: Sapindales
Family: Rutaceae
Subfamily: Rutoideae
Genus: Zanthoxylum
Type species
Zanthoxylum americanum

About 250, see text.


Fagara L.
Ochroxylum Schreb.
Xanthoxylum Mill.[1]

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

Selected speciesEdit

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

Formerly placed hereEdit


The generic name is derived from Ancient Greek words ξανθός (xanthos), meaning "yellow," and ξύλον (xylon), meaning "wood." It is technically misspelled, as the z should be x, but botanical nomenclature does not allow for spelling corrections. It refers to a yellow dye made from the roots of some species.[14] The Takhtajan system places the genus in the subfamily Rutoideae, tribe Zanthoxyleae,[15] 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.[16]

Z. piperitum as a bonsai

Fossil recordEdit

28 fossil seeds of †Zanthoxylum kristinae from the early Miocene, have been found in the Kristina Mine at Hrádek nad Nisou in North Bohemia, the Czech Republic.[17]


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 useEdit

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.[18] 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.[19]


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,[20] 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 genus Zanthoxylum, including the Sichuan pepper.


Zanthoxylum species are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including the engrailed (Ectropis crepuscularia).


  1. ^ a b c "Genus: Zanthoxylum L." Germplasm Resources Information Network. US Department of Agriculture. 2008-03-21. Archived from the original on 2009-05-07. Retrieved 2010-06-21.
  2. ^ "!Zanthoxylum L." TROPICOS. Missouri Botanical Garden. Archived from the original on 2010-09-10. 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 English Names for Korean Native Plants (PDF). Pocheon: Korea National Arboretum. 2015. pp. 683–684. ISBN 978-89-97450-98-5. Archived from the original (PDF) on 25 May 2017. Retrieved 26 December 2016 – via Korea Forest Service.
  6. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on September 14, 2011. Retrieved June 1, 2012.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  7. ^ "Bone. A proposal for rare plant rescue: Zanthoxylum paniculatum, endemic to Rodrigues" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 2013-09-26. Retrieved 2013-09-01.
  8. ^ Allen, Gary (2007). The Herbalist in the Kitchen. University of Illinois Press. p. 389. ISBN 978-0-252-03162-5.
  9. ^ "Taxon: Zanthoxylum americanum Mill". Germplasm Resources Information Network. National Plant Germplasm System. 21 June 1999. Archived from the original on 2016-12-26. Retrieved 26 December 2016.
  10. ^ Hu 2005, vol.1, pp.503-5
  11. ^ "Subordinate taxa of !Zanthoxylum L." TROPICOS. Missouri Botanical Garden. Retrieved 2010-02-26.
  12. ^ "Zanthoxylum". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved 2010-02-25.
  13. ^ a b "GRIN Species records of Zanthoxylum". Germplasm Resources Information Network. United States Department of Agriculture. Archived from the original on 2009-01-21. Retrieved 2010-11-29.
  14. ^ Quattrocchi, Umberto (2000). CRC World Dictionary of Plant Names. IV R-Z. Taylor & Francis US. p. 2868. ISBN 978-0-8493-2678-3.
  15. ^ Takhtajan, Armen (2009). Flowering Plants (2 ed.). Springer. p. 375. ISBN 978-1-4020-9608-2.
  16. ^ Beurton, C. (1994). "Gynoecium and perianth in Zanthoxylum s.l. (Rutaceae)". Plant Systematics and Evolution. 189: 165–191. doi:10.1007/bf00939724.
  17. ^ A review of the early Miocene Mastixioid flora of the Kristina Mine at Hrádek nad Nisou in North Bohemia, The Czech Republic, January 2012 by F. Holý, Z. Kvaček and Vasilis Teodoridis - ACTA MUSEI NATIONALIS PRAGAE Series B – Historia Naturalis • vol. 68 • 2012 • no. 3–4 • pp. 53–118
  18. ^ Peter, K. V. (2004). Handbook of Herbs and Spices. 2. Woodhead Publishing. pp. 98–99. ISBN 978-1-85573-721-1.
  19. ^ Bharadwaj, Monisha (2006). Indian Spice Kitchen. Hippocrene Books. pp. 82–83. ISBN 978-0-7818-1143-9.
  20. ^ "{title}". Archived from the original on 2017-12-17. Retrieved 2017-05-18.
  21. ^ The Nigerian Zanthoxylum; Chemical and biological values. S. K. Adesina, Afr. J. Trad. CAM, 2005, volume 2, issue 3, pages 282-301 (article Archived 2016-03-03 at the Wayback Machine)


External linksEdit