Herb: Winged Prickly Ash

Latin name: Zanthoxylum alatum

Family: Rutaceae (Rue Family, Citrus Family)

Medicinal use of Winged Prickly Ash:

The seeds and the bark are used as an aromatic tonic in the treatment of fevers, dyspepsia and cholera. The fruits, branches and thorns are considered to be carminative and stomachic. They are used as a remedy for toothache.

Description of the plant:


4 m
(13 feet)

Habitat of the herb:

Forest undergrowth and hot valleys to 1800 metres in the Himalayas.

Edible parts of Winged Prickly Ash:

The seed is ground into a powder and used as a condiment. A pepper substitute, it is widely used in the Orient. A light roasting brings out more of the flavour. The seed is an ingredient of the famous Chinese "five spice" mixture. The fruit is rather small but is produced in clusters which makes harvesting easy. Each fruit contains a single seed. Young leaves are used as a condiment.

Other uses of the herb:

The fruit contains 1.5% essential oil. The fruit is used to purify water. Toothbrushes are made from the branches. Wood - heavy, hard, close grained. Used for walking sticks.

Propagation of Winged Prickly Ash:

Seed - best sown in a greenhouse as soon as it is ripe in the autumn. Stored seed may requires up to 3 months cold stratification, though scarification may also help. Sow stored seed in a cold frame as early in the year as possible. Germination should take place in late spring, though it might take another 12 months. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow them on in a cold frame for their first winter. Plant them out in early summer. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, July/August in a frame. Root cuttings, 3cm long, planted horizontally in pots in a greenhouse. Good percentage. Suckers, removed in late winter and planted into their permanent positions.

Cultivation of the herb:

Forest undergrowth and hot valleys to 1800 metres in the Himalayas.

Known hazards of Zanthoxylum alatum:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.