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)




Water Requirements:

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Requires consistently moist soil; do not let dry out between waterings

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun

Sun to Partial Shade




Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us


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)

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us


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

Bloom Color:

White/Near White

Bloom Characteristics:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Size:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Time:

Mid Spring

Other details:

Unknown - Tell us

Soil pH requirements:

6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

Patent Information:


Propagation Methods:

Unknown - Tell us

Seed Collecting:

Unknown - Tell us


This plant is said to grow outdoors 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

Folsom, 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(2 reports)

Rowlett, Texas

Shepherd, Texas

Temple, Texas

Chesapeake, Virginia

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On May 6, 2018, GardenTexana from Rockwall, TX wrote:

Thrives in heavy black clay with only rainwater. I have four bird planted trees. They tend to sucker, but with pruning they grow into very nice small trees. Recommend wearing gloves when working with this tree as the thorns are wicked. Very unusual, pretty native tree that is a host plant for swallowtail butterflies.


On Mar 10, 2017, chuckrlane from Folsom, LA wrote:

after numerous attempts- finally germinated seeds- soaked with rotting leaves for 60 days- then planted
have a small male and large female- which are flowering prolifically now (march)
outstanding unusual tree- with vicious thorns.
tried root cuttings several times-never worked for me


On Nov 20, 2015, flswamprat from Chesapeake, VA wrote:

This is one of my favorite trees, growing up in central florida i had several of them in my yard and would always transplant seedlings to give away. My mother and i bring one with us everywhere we move, and ive currently got one in my yard in virginia, hoping it survives the winter. I disagree with the moist soil part, a lot of them i have found in florida tend to be growing in sandy locations that do not retain moisture, if anything this tree is quite drought tolerant. Also host to the giant swallowtails.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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!?!


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...


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.


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...


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

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