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Hercules Club

Zanthoxylum clava-herculis

Other common name(s):

Toothache Tree, Pepperbark, Tickle Tongue, Prickly Ash

Family:

Rutaceae (Rue Family)

Plant Ecoregion Distribution Map

East Central Texas Plains, Gulf Coast Prairies and Marshes, Texas Blackland Prairies, Western Gulf Coastal Plain
Southern Post Oak Savanna
Northern Humid Gulf Coastal Prairies, Texas-Louisiana Coastal Marshes
Floodplains and Low Terraces1, Northern Blackland Prairie, Southern Blackland Prairie
Flatwoods, Floodplains and Low Terraces3, Pleistocene Fluvial Terraces, Red River Bottomlands, Southern Tertiary Uplands

Plant Characteristics

Growth Form

Tree

Height

10
to
25
ft.

Spread

12
to
15
ft.

Leaf Retention

Deciduous

Lifespan

Perennial

Habitat and Care Requirements

Soil Type(s)

Sand, Acid, Well Drained

Light Requirement

Sun, Part Shade

Water Requirement

Low, Medium

Native Habitat

Grassland

Bloom and Attraction

Bloom Color

Yellow, Green

Bloom Season

Spring

Seasonal Interest

Seeds, Nectar, Larval Host

Wildlife Benefit

Butterflies, Birds

Maintenance

A a hardy plant that requires ample water and sunlight, the Hercules Club can sprout anywhere, including along fence rows and the edges of woods. Drought tolerant once established. Don’t prune. Propagation: Seeds.

Comments

Blooms January-May. Aromatic and showy, round headed tree or shrub with spines on branches; gray bark covered with spine-tipped cone-like growths. Lustrous, pinnately compound leaves with spines on leaf stem, 5-19 leaflets with serrated edges. Clusters of whitish-yellowish flowers in spring. Fruit is a two-valved capsule that contains several small black seeds, produced on female trees. Nectar source: butterflies. Seed source for birds.. Larval host: Giant Swallowtail butterfly,
Previous Scientific Name(s): Synonym(s): Zanthoxylum macrophyllum

References

1) Griffith, Bryce, Omernick & Rodgers (2007). Ecoregions of Texas. 2) https://www.wildflower.org/plants/result.php?id_plant=ZACL. 3) https://portal.torcherbaria.org/portal/taxa/index.php?taxon=Zanthoxylum+clava-herculis&formsubmit=Search+Terms. 4) http://bonap.net/TDC/Image/Map?taxonType=Species&taxonId=22455&locationType=County&mapType=Normal, 5) https://www.itis.gov/servlet/SingleRpt/SingleRpt?search_topic=TSN&search_value=28850#null, 6) https://sheffields.com/inventory/view/1524, 7) https://littleredwagonnativenursery.com/products/hercules-club-zanthoxylum-clava-herculis-3-gal
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About the Region

New Braunfels, the location of our Fall 2024 Symposium, straddles both the Edwards Plateau Ecoregion and the Blackland Prairie ecoregion. Interstate 35 divides the city of New Braunfels; its path through the city closely parallels the boundary of these two ecoregions, with the Edwards Plateau on the west side and the Blackland Prairies region to the east. The Edwards Plateau area is also called the Hill Country; however, this general term covers a much larger area extending farther north. Spring-fed creeks are found throughout the region; deep limestone canyons, rivers, and lakes (reservoirs) are common. Ashe juniper is perhaps the most common woody species found throughout the region. Additional woody species include various species of oak, with live oak (Quercus fusiformis) being the most common. Sycamores (Platanus occidentalis) and bald cypress (Taxodium distichum) border waterways. This area is well known for its spring wildflower displays, though they may be viewed in spring, late summer, and fall, as well. According to Texas Parks and Wildlife, average annual rainfall in the Edwards Plateau ranges from 15 to 34 inches.

The Blackland Prairie extends from the Red River south to San Antonio, bordered on the west by the Edwards Plateau and the Cross Timbers, and on the east by the Post Oak Savannah. Annual rainfall averages 30 to 40 inches, with higher averages to the east. This region is dominated by prairie species. The most common grass species include little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium) and Indian grass (Sorghastrum nutans) in the uplands and switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) in the riparian areas and drainages. Common herbaceous flowering plants include salvias, penstemons, and silphiums. This area has suffered greatly from overgrazing and agricultural use. Few intact areas remain, though many of the plants can be found along county roadsides throughout the region.

Our four host chapters (New Braunfels, Lindheimer, Guadalupe, and the Hill Country chapters) are located in one or both of the ecoregions above. However, the eastern portion of Guadalupe County also falls within the Post Oak Savanna ecoregion. Annual rainfall averages 35 to 45 inches, with higher averages to the east. A wide variety of hardwood trees are found, including several species of oaks, elms, and in the Bastrop area, loblolly pine (Pinus taeda). Grasses and forbs dominate in the open savannas, with most common grass being little bluestem. Ranching, agriculture, and fire suppression have allowed woody species to encroach on the once-open savannas.

Source: Wildflowers of Texas by Michael Eason