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Zanthoxylum fagara (L.) Sarg.

Wild lime prickly ash

KingdomPlantaePlants, but not fungi, lichens, or algae
SubkingdomTracheobiontaVascular plants—plants with a “circulatory system” for delivering water and nutrients
DivisionMagnoliophytaFlowering plants, also known as angiosperms
ClassMagnoliopsidaDicotyledons—plants with two initial seed leaves
SubclassRosidaeRoses, legumes, proteas, dogwoods, hydrangeas, mistletoes, euphorbias, grapes, many more
OrderSapindalesIncludes citrus; maples, horse-chestnuts, lychees and rambutans; mangos and cashews; frankincense and myrrh; mahogany and neem
FamilyRutaceaeRue or citrus family: limes, lemons, grapefruits, oranges, Sichuan pepper trees, and flowering shrubs
GenusZanthoxylumRue or citrus family: limes, lemons, grapefruits, oranges, Sichuan pepper trees
SpeciesfagaraAn old word meaning Sichuan pepper

About plant names...

Wild lime prickly-ash—how’s that for a name?—is native to south Florida and Texas, as well as Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean. It extends in South America as well, down to Paraguay. Although one of its common names is wild lime, it is not a true lime. It is found in chaparral and brush country.

Identification: Plants are evergreen shrubs or trees up to 23′ (7 m) high and 20′ (6 m) around. Trunks are rough and gray, up to 10″ (25 cm) in diameter. Uneven branches have rather nasty, recurved spines capable of inflicting painful wounds, and odd pinnate leaves with leaflets up to 1¾″ (5 cm) long. The compound leaves have wings along the rachis. Crushed leaves smell like citrus. Flowers are yellow, appearing several times a year, between January and June. Fruits are red, maturing to black, showy, round, and less than ½″ (1.3 cm) in diameter.

Edibility: Fruits are edible, used as a spice. The taste is reminiscent of lemon zest, first tingly, then somewhat numbing.

Online References:

The University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences


The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center



Zanthoxylum fagara description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 25 May 2020.

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Zanthoxylum fagara (wild lime prickly ash)

4/15/2015 · Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge Marsh Trail, Florida

Range: Zones 9b-11:

About this map...