Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Hercules' Club
Zanthoxylum clava-herculis

Family: Rutaceae (roo-TAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Zanthoxylum (zan-THOK-sil-um) (Info)
Species: clava-herculis (KLAV-uh HER-kew-lis) (Info)

3 vendors have this plant for sale.

4 members have or want this plant for trade.


15-20 ft. (4.7-6 m)
20-30 ft. (6-9 m)

8-10 ft. (2.4-3 m)
10-12 ft. (3-3.6 m)

USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)
USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun
Sun to Partial Shade

Plant has spines or sharp edges; use extreme caution when handling

Bloom Color:
White/Near White

Bloom Time:
Mid Spring


Other details:
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater
Requires consistently moist soil; do not let dry out between waterings

Soil pH requirements:
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
Unknown - Tell us

Seed Collecting:
Unknown - Tell us

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There are a total of 15 photos.
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7 positives
2 neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive goofballTex On May 30, 2014, goofballTex from Plano, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

Found one growing wild in the shady part of one of our flower beds this spring. I'm moving it to a better location so that it can grow properly. Hopefully I can use the fruits of this tree as a native substitute for Szechuan peppers.

Positive Phellos On Aug 30, 2013, Phellos from Port Vincent, LA wrote:

We had two of these trees originally. However, one eventually died from a neighbor's renovations (destroyed root system). It also died back after heavy rains when it was alive. I don't know that I would agree with the moist soil bit. There is still one left, but it is really slow and looks somewhat stunted. It is quite magnificent.

Positive kathy__bee On Oct 12, 2011, kathy__bee from Plano, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

This tree grows wild in shady creek areas here in TX from Dallas to Beaumont. It is well known in the country as the 'tickle tongue' tree. A small piece of bark will make your tongue/lips numb. Not a particularly pretty or interesting tree, but good as a swallowtail food plant.

Positive bordersandjacks On Apr 17, 2011, bordersandjacks from Seabrook, SC (Zone 8b) wrote:

Rather funky plant. I like it. I agree with the other poster that the GST caterpillars prefer this to the other citrus larval food plants in the yard. Possibly the numbing affect transfers to them and gives them some protection from predators?

I have it at the back of a tropical looking border, so it's not too obvious when the leaves are munched off several times a year. The flowers are somewhat insignificant.

Positive traceybarger On Jul 16, 2009, traceybarger from Sibley, LA wrote:

I live in North Louisiana and I have what seems like thousands of Hercules Clubs growing in and around my yard... I can't get rid of them!!! I have been somewhat frustrated with them until tonight, my hubby has a horrible toothache & I realized we literally have a yard FULL of "Toothache Trees"! It must have worked because he quit whining & is now asleep... YAY!!! But I do have a bunch of "thorn holes" in my hands from picking leaves in the dark! That woulda happened even if it had been high noon, those suckers are mean! And they taste pretty funky, but if it works who cares!?!

Neutral gooley On Jul 11, 2009, gooley from Hawthorne, FL (Zone 8b) wrote:

The national co-champion is near me, in Gainesville, in an area known as Sugarfoot Hammock. The other co-champion is in Texas. Yet another native tree I should get. If a champion tree can grow fifteen miles away...

Positive scotjute On Mar 16, 2009, scotjute from Moody, TX wrote:

It grows wild near Waco on blackland prairie. We have left one in backyard near fence as it is somewhat picturesque. Have noticed birds eating the seeds.

Positive asafla On Jan 27, 2008, asafla from Palm Harbor, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

Host plant in Florida for GST butterfly. Although it has lethal thorns the larva prefer it over other host plants that I've offered. Slow grower...

Neutral temblor On Oct 15, 2006, temblor from Fort Lauderdale, FL wrote:

Said to be host plant (wild lime) for Giant Swallowtail butterfly caterpillars.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Midland City, Alabama
Morrilton, Arkansas
Bartow, Florida
Jacksonville, Florida
Merritt Island, Florida
Oakland, Florida
Orlando, Florida
Oviedo, Florida
Palm Harbor, Florida
Pensacola, Florida
Sarasota, Florida
Cordele, Georgia
Loganville, Georgia
Roswell, Georgia
Savannah, Georgia
Denham Springs, Louisiana
Merryville, Louisiana
Sibley, Louisiana
Seabrook, South Carolina
Arlington, Texas
Austin, Texas
De Leon, Texas
Moody, Texas
Needville, Texas
New Caney, Texas
Plano, Texas (3 reports)
Quinlan, Texas
Rockwall, Texas
Rowlett, Texas
Shepherd, Texas

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