Hercules' Club (Zanthoxylum clava-herculis)

Plantae>Magnoliophyta>Magnoliopsida>Sapindales>Rutaceae>Zanthoxylum clava-herculis L.

Hercules' Club (Zanthoxylum clava-herculis)

This uncommon small tree or large shrub in the Citrus family grows on the barrier islands along the immediate coast of North Carolina.

Carteret Co., NC 4/14/07.

Hercules' Club (Zanthoxylum clava-herculis)

The compound leaves are glossy above, glabrous (smooth), and coriaceous (thickened). One alternate common name, Toothache Tree, refers to the numbing effects of chewing the leaves. The thorny leaves and young branches, combined with the ash-like leaves, give it another common name: Southern Prickly-ash. Other common names include Sea-ash and Pepper-bark.

New Hanover Co., NC 8/26/06.

Hercules' Club (Zanthoxylum clava-herculis)

Young branches are thorny.

Carteret Co., NC 4/14/07.

Hercules' Club (Zanthoxylum clava-herculis)

Thorn detail.

Carteret Co., NC 4/14/07.

Hercules' Club (Zanthoxylum clava-herculis)

The fruits are arranged in terminal panicles.

New Hanover Co., NC 8/26/06.

Hercules' Club (Zanthoxylum clava-herculis)

Ripe fruits (follicles) burst open to reveal a shiny black seed.

New Hanover Co., NC 8/26/06.

Hercules' Club (Zanthoxylum clava-herculis)

Bark of a small tree.

New Hanover Co., NC 8/26/06.

Hercules' Club (Zanthoxylum clava-herculis)

Carteret Co., NC 9/28/08.

Hercules' Club (Zanthoxylum clava-herculis)

Bark of a larger tree.

Carteret Co., NC 4/14/07.

Hercules' Club (Zanthoxylum clava-herculis)

Bark of a larger tree. The name Hercules' Club (translated from clava-herculis) refers to the odd spiny warty projections on the bark of older trees.

Carteret Co., NC 4/14/07.

More information:
USDA PLANTS Database
Virginia Tech Dendrology

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cwcook@duke.edu

All photographs and text ©2011 by Will Cook unless otherwise indicated.