Common prickly-ash

  • Latin name: Zanthoxylum americanum Mill.
  • French name: Clavalier d’Amérique
  • Synonym(s): Toothache tree
  • Taxonomic Serial Number: 505788
Description

Leaves

  • Leaf with prickly stalk - common prickly-ash

Form

  • Deciduous, alternate
  • Pinnately compound
  • 5–11 leaflets on a prickly central stalk

Length

  • Leaf and central stalk 10–20 cm

Buds

  • Lateral bud, leaf scar and paired spines - common prickly-ash

Form

  • Terminal and lateral buds small, rounded
  • More than 1 above a leaf scar
  • Covered with woolly hairs
  • Leaf scars with 3 vein scars

Length

  • Terminal bud 4–6 mm

Colour

  • Hairs red

Twigs

Form

  • Stiff
  • Spicy citrus odour when bruised
  • 2 spines at the leaf base

Colour

  • Dark brown

Flowers

Form

  • Small
  • In small clusters on previous year’s twig

Colour

  • Greenish

Structure

  • Dioecious

Floral timing

  • Before the leaves

Fruits

  • Fruit capsules; closed (left), open, with seed (right) - common prickly-ash

Form

  • Rounded, small
  • Spicy odour
  • 1 or 2 seeds

Width

  • Fruit 4–5 mm

Colour

  • Fruit bright red
  • Seeds shiny black

Structure

  • Capsule

Bark

Form

  • Smooth, becoming furrowed

Colour

  • Grey or brown with lighter blotches

Wood

Texture

  • Hard

Colour

  • Yellow

Size

Height

  • Shrubs or very small trees

Habitat

Site

  • Along fencerows and forest edges
  • Reproduces by root sprouts to form colonies

Light tolerance

  • Moderately shade-tolerant

Range

Common in southern Ontario and Quebec

Distribution map
Distribution map - common prickly-ash
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