Zanthoxylum fagara (L.) Sarg.
Wild lime prickly ash
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.
Zanthoxylum fagara at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences
Zanthoxylum fagara on Wikipedia
Zanthoxylum fagara at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
Zanthoxylum fagara on www.levypreserve.org
Zanthoxylum fagara description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 25 May 2020.
Range: Zones 9b-11: