8 responses to “Zanthoxylum oxyphyllum”

  1. Douglas Justice

    Readers might be interested to know that unlike its more commonly cultivated relatives, Z. schinifolium and Z. piperitum, this species is a vigorous, scandent shrub that climbs by way of its backward facing hooked prickles. These prickles are present on the stems (as shown), but also on the petioles of the relatively large pinnately compound leaves, as well as the backs of the leaflets, along the major veins.

    This specimen has climbed to the top of a large magnolia and is threatening nearby trees as well. Controlling its exuberant growth is a serious challenge, but the plant is not without charm.

  2. Daniel Mosquin

    The term for these climbing shrubs is sarmentose, which was discussed in the entry on Elaeagnus glabra.

  3. Douglas Justice

    Perhaps to split a hair or two…
    Most plants with the epithet sarmentosa, such as Alectoria sarmentosa (witch’s hair lichen) or Saxifraga sarmentosa (strawberry begonia) have parts that are very thin and lax. In the case of the lichen, the entire vegetative body is hair-like (the segments thinner than in many other fruticose lichens) and drooping, while the saxifrage produces wire-like stolons along the ground. Kniphofia sarmentosa (in flower in the E.H. Lohbrunner Alpine Garden) is a colony forming torch lily that spreads by thin rhizomes.
    The use of sarmentose to describe woody plants is somewhat more obscure. Bentham, in Flora Australiensis (1863) defines sarmentose as “when the branches of a woody stem are long and weak, although scarcely climbing.” Gray’s First Lessons in Botany and Vegetable Physiology (1837) lists sarmentaceous as “bearing long and flexible twigs (sarments), either spreading or procumbent.”
    With respect to these plants, I think Rehder gets it right: in his Manual of Cultivated Trees and Shrubs (1940) he uses the term sarmentose to describe Elaeagnus glabra, but as “sarmentose OR climbing.”
    I would describe the initial phase of growth of Elaeagnus glabra and Zanthoxylum oxyphyllum as sarmentose, but both are rather more upright and robust with age (at least in this garden), and ultimately scandent (climbing).

  4. phillip lacock

    inpressive protection from all those nibblers out there !

  5. Daniel Mosquin

    Thanks, Douglas.

  6. Daniel Mosquin

    Karen from Brooklyn, NY sent along this additional comment:
    “More than an orange, Zanthoxylum oxyphyllum is one of the many sources of Szechuan pepper, used medicinally and for cooking, Z. fragara and Z. piperata being others. Zanthoxylum americanum is prickly ash, also used in herbal medicine, but this time the inner bark is used, important for its peppery quality which carries herbal constituents into tissue and through phlegm. It is also called “toothache bark”.
    Z. oxyphyllum grows in Yunnan, Nepal and Assam India and throughout the Himalayas. In India the fruit is used in curries, the shoots are eaten as a vegetable and the bark is used medicinally. Extracts from the bark and root of Z. oxyphyllum has recently been shown to have antiproliferative activity against the growth of human keratinocytes. See: Kumar, S and Mullar, K. 1999. Inhibition of keratinocyte growth by different Nepalese zanthoxylum species. Phytother. Res. 13(3):214-7.”

  7. Marcus Moore

    Greetings from the UK.
    I am soon to be attending a Festival of Science, where I chair – and prepare outline scripts for – an annual event called “Call My Scientific Bluff”, based on the popular BBC TV game where panellists define an obscure word three different ways, two of them bluffs and the third true.
    I came across your site through Google, having find the word ‘sarmentose’ in one of my larger dictionaries of unusual words. Well, maybe ‘sarmentose’ isn’t unusual for the family of botanists that frequent this site, but I’m hoping none of our panel will know it – though they are a brainy lot!
    Anyway, I came here by accident, was immediately fascinated by the Photo of the Day, have been reading the various threads and widening my knowledge of things botanical.
    This is a terrific site. Thank you for making mey late-night researches all the more enjoyable.
    Bets wishes to all readers

  8. Daniel Mosquin

    Thank you for the kind comments, Marcus. Hope you continue to find things of interest here – I’ll try to dig out more obscure words for you to use!

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