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This shrub or small tree is in the Citrus family, and all of its parts are pungent and aromatic. It's one of only two plants in Ohio that hosts the giant swallowtail butterfly. The common name refers to pairs of thorns on the stems and the ash-like foliage. It's also called "toothache tree" because the red fruits and bark have a numbing effect when chewed. Prickly ash is tolerant of poor or rocky soils and spreads by suckers to form an effective barrier hedge. It's tolerant of drought and proximity to black walnut trees. Deer and other mammals are deterred by the thorns. It has no serious insect or disease problems.


  • Grows 10-15' tall and wide. Forms a thicket if allowed.
  • Prefers full or part sun.
  • Grows in average, well-drained soils. Tolerant of poor soils and drought.
  • Greenish-yellow flowers bloom April to May, giving way to clusters of rounded, reddish-brown fruits that mature in late summer.
  • Green leaves turn yellow in fall.


Wildlife Value: Fruits are eaten by birds and small mammals. 


Fun Fact: In winter, the twigs look like comedienne Lucille Ball! 


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Ash, Prickly, Zanthoxylum americanum

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