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Szechuan Pepper, Flatspine Prickly Ash

Zanthoxylum simulans

Family: Rutaceae (roo-TAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Zanthoxylum (zan-THOK-sil-um) (Info)
Species: simulans (sim-YOO-lans) (Info)
Synonym:Zanthoxylum bungei



Water Requirements:

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Sun Exposure:

Sun to Partial Shade


Grown for foliage




Foliage Color:



15-20 ft. (4.7-6 m)


15-20 ft. (4.7-6 m)


USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)

USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)

USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)

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)

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us



Bloom Color:

Chartreuse (yellow-green)

Bloom Characteristics:

Flowers are fragrant

Bloom Size:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Time:

Late Winter/Early Spring

Mid Spring

Other details:

Unknown - Tell us

Soil pH requirements:

5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)

6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

7.9 to 8.5 (alkaline)

Patent Information:

Unknown - Tell us

Propagation Methods:

From softwood cuttings

From seed; winter sow in vented containers, coldframe or unheated greenhouse

Seed Collecting:

Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds

Seed does not store well; sow as soon as possible


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

Birmingham, Alabama

Bedford, Iowa

Gardeners' Notes:


On Jun 25, 2018, Ted_B from Birmingham, AL (Zone 8a) wrote:

Obtaining viable seed for this species is always the issue for those outside of its native region, but where it can be found, seed sown in a cold frame in midwinter germinated after about 60 days of fluctuating cold/mild temperatures. Seedlings appear to grow steadily when given regular moisture in well-draining, rich soil and dappled sunlight.


On Nov 5, 2010, sambalfan from Coppell, TX wrote:

The combination of five spices has evolved as Chinese settled in the different part of the world. In southeast asia, 5 spices does include sichuan peppercorn .
also the cinnamon are not the Cassia bark used in America. The five spices sichuan peppercorn, star anise, cloves, cinnamon and fennel seed.


On Apr 26, 2010, Pony289 from Seattle, WA wrote:

Prickly Ash Pods or "Sichuan Peppercorn" is NOT an ingredient in Chinese 5 spice powder, it is a unique spice used to flavor spicy Sichuan foods and hot pots. The spice is a "numbing cool" kind of spicy and is often used with red pepper powder. I put the "peppercorns" in a peppermill and grind them fresh into Sichuan dishes and lots of other dishes too. Try a tablespoonful of these when you cook a corned beef, you'll never make it without them again!! I am American, My Spouse is originally from Taiwan, we travel the world in search of spicy food! :)


On May 11, 2008, gooley from Hawthorne, FL (Zone 8b) wrote:

For a while the dried fruits (generally sold with seed) were embargoed and not sold in the US due to fears over the spread of citrus canker (both Zanthoxylum and Citrus are in Rutaceae, and closely enough related for that to be rational). The embargo is over but pretty much any sichuan-pepper you buy in the US will have been steamed to kill pathogens: don't expect the seeds to germinate for you barring a lot of luck. I'm told that viable seed may need stratification, too.


On Jan 19, 2005, kayaker from Milton, VT (Zone 4a) wrote:

This plan is Dioecious. Male and female plants must be grown if seed is required.
Other means of propigation are:
Root cuttings, 3cm long, planted horizontally in pots in a greenhouse. Good percentage.
Suckers, removed in late winter and planted into their permanent positions.

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