Leaf: Alternate, very tardily deciduous or evergreen, pinnately compound, 7-9 narrowly elliptical to lanceolate leaflets, leaflets with round-pointed teeth, waxy-shiny above, light green below, 5-8 inches overall, rachis may bear spines.
Flower: Species is dioecious; in terminal many-branched racemes, individual flowers tiny and yellow-green, with 5 petals, appearing in early spring.
Fruit: Follicles produced in clusters, individual fruits enclosed in a brown husk that splits open at maturity to reveal a shiny red-brown to black seed.
Twig: Stout, green changing brown-green, bearing sharp scattered single spines, leaf scars shield-shaped, terminal buds rounded and green to brown.
Bark: Very unique, gray-brown and smooth, with large spine-tipped corky-pyramidal projections, losing spines with age.
Form: A small tree, 30 to 40 feet in height.
Additional Range Information: Zanthoxylum clava-herculis is native to North America. Range may be expanded by planting. Download the full-size PDF map.
External Links: USDA Plants Database
All material © 2019 Virginia Tech Dept. of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation; Photos and text by: John Seiler, Edward Jensen, Alex Niemiera, and John Peterson; Silvics reprinted from Ag Handbook 654; range map source information