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Botanical Name: Zanthoxylum simulans
Species: Z. simulans
Synonyms: Zanthoxylum bungeanum, Zanthoxylum bungei
Common Names: Szechuan Pepper, Chinese-pepper, Prickly Ash
Habitat:Zanthoxylum simulans is native to eastern China and Taiwan. It grows on virgin wilds, hillsides and open woods.
Zanthoxylum simulans is a deciduous Shrub growing to 4 m (13ft) by 6 m (19ft) at a medium rate. The leaves are 7-12.5 cm long, pinnate, with 7-11 leaflets, the leaflets 3–5 cm long and 1.5–2 cm broad. There are numerous short (3–6 mm) spines on both the stems and the leaf petioles, and large (several cm) knobs on the branches. The flowers are produced in slender cymes, each flower about 4–5 mm diameter. The 3–4 mm berry has a rough reddish brown shell that splits open to release the black seeds from inside.
It is in flower in June, and the seeds ripen in October. The flowers are dioecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but only one sex is to be found on any one plant so both male and female plants must be grown if seed is required)The plant is not self-fertile.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in full shade (deep woodland) semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.
Landscape Uses:Border, Massing. Easily grown in loamy soils in most positions, but prefers a good deep well-drained moisture retentive soil in full sun or semi-shade. A plant has been growing well for many years in deep woodland shade at Cambridge Botanical gardens, it was fruiting heavily in autumn 1996. Cultivated for its seed, which is used as a condiment in China. Flowers are formed on the old wood. The bruised leaves are strongly aromatic. Dioecious. Male and female plants must be grown if seed is required. Special Features:Inconspicuous flowers or blooms, Blooms appear periodically throughout the year.
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
The fruit is dried and used as a condiment. A pepper flavour, it is stronger and more pungent than black pepper. It can be used whole or ground into a powder and used as a table seasoning. A light roasting brings out more of the flavour. It is an ingredient of the famous Chinese ‘five spice’ mixture.
Astringent, diaphoretic, emmenagogue. The pericarp is anaesthetic, diuretic, parasiticide and vasodilator. It is used in the treatment of gastralgia and dyspepsia due to cold with vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal pain, ascariasis and dermal diseases. It has a local anaesthetic action and is parasiticide against the pork tapeworm (Taenia solium). The pericarp contains geraniol. In small doses this has a mild diuretic action, though large doses will inhibit the excretion of urine. There is a persistent increase in peristalsis at low concentration, but inhibition at high concentration. The leaves are carminative, stimulant and sudorific. The fruit is carminative, diuretic, stimulant, stomachic and tonic. The seed is antiphlogistic and diuretic. A decoction of the root is digestive and also used in the treatment of snakebites. The resin contained in the bark, and especially in that of the roots, is powerfully stimulant and tonic.
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