IUCN threat status:

Not evaluated

Comprehensive Description

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Prickly Ash is a distant relative of the Orange and other citrus fruits. In spite of its common name, it is not closely related to Ash trees (Fraxinus spp.) of the Olive family, although their pinnate leaves are superficially similar to each other. A more southern species, Zanthoxylum clava-herculis (Hercule's Club), differs from Prickly Ash by having its trunk densely covered with stout warty prickles. Hercule's Club also has more leaflets (11-19) per compound leaf and it produces large terminal panicles of flowers and fruit, rather than small axillary cymes of flowers and fruit. It is also possible to confuse Prickly Ash with a sapling of Robinia pseudoacacia (Black Locust) because they both have scattered large prickles along their twigs and smaller branches, and they both have pinnate leaves. However, Black Locust becomes much larger in size than Prickly Ash, it has more leaflets per compound leaf, its leaflets have more rounded tips, and its flowers and fruits are completely different in appearance. A scientific synonym of Prickly Ash, Xanthoxylum americanum, is occasionally encountered in some reference materials.

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© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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