General Plant Information (Edit)
Plant Habit: Shrub
Life cycle: Perennial
Sun Requirements: Full Sun to Partial Shade
Partial or Dappled Shade
Water Preferences: Wet Mesic
Mesic
Dry Mesic
Soil pH Preferences: Slightly acid (6.1 – 6.5)
Neutral (6.6 – 7.3)
Minimum cold hardiness: Zone 3 -40 °C (-40 °F) to -37.2 °C (-35)
Maximum recommended zone: Zone 7b
Plant Height: 15 to 20 feet
Plant Spread: 10 to 15 feet
Leaves: Fragrant
Other: Host for caterpillars of giant swallowtail (Papilio cresphontes)
Fruit: Showy
Fruiting Time: Late summer or early fall
Flowers: Inconspicuous
Fragrant
Blooms on old wood
Flower Color: Yellow
Bloom Size: Under 1"
Flower Time: Spring
Uses: Windbreak or Hedge
Culinary Herb
Will Naturalize
Edible Parts: Fruit
Eating Methods: Culinary Herb/Spice
Wildlife Attractant: Bees
Propagation: Seeds: Stratify seeds
Sow in situ
Other info: Not self-fertile and requires both male and female forms.
Propagation: Other methods: Offsets
Pollinators: Flies
Bees
Miscellaneous: With thorns/spines/prickles/teeth
Dioecious

Image
Common names
  • Common Prickly Ash
  • Northern Prickly Ash
  • Toothache Tree
  • Common Pricklyash
  • Prickly Ash

Photo Gallery
Location: Jenkins Arboretum in Berwyn, Pennsylvania
Date: 2012-06-10
tall spreading shrub
Location: Jenkins Arboretum in Berwyn, Pennsylvania
Date: 2012-06-10
summer leaves
Location: Jenkins Arboretum in Berwyn, Pennsylvania
Date: 2015-12-13
shrub and sprouts in winter

Date: 2006-07-28
Steven J. Baskauf http://bioimages.vanderbilt.edu/
Location: Jenkins Arboretum in Berwyn, Pennsylvania
Date: 2015-12-13
trunks and stems
Location: Real Jardín Botánico de Madrid.
Date: August
credit: A. Barra

USDA photo

Date: 2018-06-15

Date: 2018-06-15
Photo by sooby
Location: Jenkins Arboretum in Berwyn, Pennsylvania
Date: 2012-06-10
sprouts with leaves

Date: 2004-06-18
Steven J. Baskauf http://bioimages.vanderbilt.edu/

Date: 2004-06-18
Steven J. Baskauf http://bioimages.vanderbilt.edu/
Location: Jenkins Arboretum in Berwyn, Pennsylvania
Date: 2015-12-13
winter stems and twigs

Date: 2004-06-18
Steven J. Baskauf http://bioimages.vanderbilt.edu/

Date: 2006-05-07
Steven J. Baskauf http://bioimages.vanderbilt.edu/

Date: 2006-07-28
Steven J. Baskauf http://bioimages.vanderbilt.edu/
Location: Natural Area in Northeastern Indiana
Date: 2012-03-23
Thorny bark
Location: Natural Area in Northeastern Indiana
Date: 2012-03-23
Bud cluster
Photo by threegardeners
Photo by threegardeners
Comments:
  • Posted by ILPARW (southeast Pennsylvania - Zone 6b) on Sep 11, 2020 2:33 PM concerning plant:
    I've heard of this large shrub, but have only seen a small colony at Jenkins Arboretum in southeast Pennsylvania. It is not an Ash, but a member of the Citrus Family (Rutaceae). Its native range is all around the Great Lakes and up the St Lawrence River somewhat, down the Appalachians to northern Georgia over west to the Ozarks and Iowa. Its pinnately compound leaves get to 9 inches long with 5 to 11 leaflets. Leaflets 1 to 3 inches long being either toothless or minutely dull toothed. Foliage is dotted with translucent oil glands and is aromatic when crushed, as is all parts of the plant, smelling like lemon peel. Tiny greenish-yellow flowers in April-May before leaves emerge. Fruit is a reddish to brown capsule 2-valved with black seeds. The twigs have paired spines at the base of the leaves. This upright, much-branched shrub spreads by underground stems to become a dense thicket. I have never seen it used in conventional horticulture. Some native plant nurseries as Possibility Place in Illinois, Izel Plants in Maryland, Out Back Nursery in Minnesota, and Arche Wild Native Plants in eastern Pennsylvania sell some. (Sometimes this species is called Toothache Tree because Native Americans chewed on twigs and fruits to alleviate tooth ache pain, as the plant's chemicals numbed pain. The similar species found farther south called Hercules-Club is also called Toothache Tree, so there can be confusion.)
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