Zanthoxylum simulans seeds (Szechuan Pepper)


A culinary treasure. Unique small tree with its broad conical spines and graceful form.  The dark pink fruit pericarp is used in Szechuan dishes. Get creative.

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This tree is a culinary treasure and totally unique in any garden with its broad conical spines and graceful form.  In spring, white umbels of flowers are followed by dark pink fruits born in loose clusters. It is the pink pericarp is the tongue tingling spice used in culinary dishes and medicinally for its numbing effect.  Lovely pinnate leaves.  Aka Zanthoxylum bungeanum.

Though the species is gendered, its reproductive strategy is shared by a few plants (Acer griseum is perhaps one) where you have male and female plants, where the female plants are self fertile.  This makes sense as I’ve grown seedlings from previous harvest from this tree but have been unsuccessful finding this plant’s mate.

  • Seed Count: 12-15
  • Collection Date: Oct 2022
  • Hardiness Zone: 5-9
  • Height and Width: 4m x 6m
  • Preferred conditions: Full to semi sun; humus rich acidic soil
  • Germination test type: cut
  • Family: Rutaceae

How to germinate Zanthoxylum simulans seeds:

Fairly easy germination: Soak in water, let stand in water for 24 hours. Cold stratify for 90 days* in baggies with moist medium in the fridge. After 90 days, sow seed 4mm deep, tamp soil firm, mulch & gentle warmth to germinate.  Grows quickly. Pungent fruits & foliage. Not likely to be visited by deer. A must for Szechuan dishes. Insanely pungent pink fruit borne in clusters for easy picking. Unique pyramidal thorns adorn trunk & older branches. Mid winter bloom.

*Note: we’ve had very good success with 21 days cold stratification instead of the 90 days after a 48 hour Skookum Grow solution soak. Seed started germinating 2 weeks given gentle warmth when baggie sow.  Stupid happy with the results.