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Does anyone know what this is?

09 Apr 2011
Sunny 8°C / 46°F

The small tree (?) is about 150cm tall and in a pot. It has a single woody stem with leaf scars and small thorns. The growning tip is strong and the stems and leaves at this point are slightly downy.
The leaflets are in pairs with a small thorn where they join the stalk

Has anyone any idea what this could be?


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Usually plants that are harassed by larger animals (rather than insects) are the ones that have to invest energy in defenses like thorns. So I’m thinking that something out there finds it edible. Sorry, that’s all I’ve got.

Posted on 12 Apr 11 (over 4 years ago)

Looks to me like it may be Zanthoxylum (prickly-ash) – possibly Zanthoxylum americanum or its close relative, Zanthoxylum clava-herculis. I’m thinking that is what this is, because deer like to munch on the leaves of Zanthoxylums.

If the plant has a fragrance similar to citrus and your mouth gets tingly from very lightly nibbling on the edge of a leaf, then that is what this is, and you are lucky to have it because it’s an uncommon, and medicinal, tree. Which I’d love to have some fresh seeds of. :)

Otherwise, it is probably Aralia spinosa, a similar plant which is mildly toxic…so if your mouth does not tingle pretty soon, then immediately spit and rinse your mouth.

Posted on 12 Apr 11 (over 4 years ago)

Thanks!

I’ll check out those suggestions, Grovespirit, and thank you for the extra info Halhurst.

Unfortunately, the plant is not mine, but I hope I can have a share in the seeds to distribute, if it flowers later on in the year. I work at a plant nursery at the weekends and it arrived ‘free’ on a consignment of second hand glass house benches that were purchaced during the winter. I’m also looking forward to taste testing it in ‘true-seat-of-the-pants-chemical-analysis’. Beats the gas chromatograph every time!

I’ll let you know what I discover LD50 permitting!

Posted on 13 Apr 11 (over 4 years ago)

Aralia spinosa is really not all that toxic, but feel free to look up its LD50 just to be sure… I would not have suggested the nibble test as ID method in this case, if I believed it to be any hazard to a healthy adult. :)

More info on Zanthoxylum americanum, Aralia spinosa, and their uses:

http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Zanthoxylum%20americanum
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Aralia%20spinosa

Posted on 13 Apr 11 (over 4 years ago)

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