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Zanthoxylum piperitum, photo courtesy of Karl Gercens III
Zanthoxylum piperitum, photo courtesy of Karl Gercens III

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Zones 6-9, 14-17
Full Sun
Regular Water

Zanthoxylum piperitum

Japan Pepper, Sansho
Deciduous, Edible fruit, Shrubs, Trees

Native to China, Japan, andKorea. Dense growth to 8–20 ft.tall and wide. Handsome darkgreen, 3–6-in.-long leaves with11 to 23 oval, 2-in.-long leaflets;may turn yellow in autumn.Flat, 1/2-in.-long spines in pairsalong stems. Inconspicuousgreen flowers. Small, aromaticred fruits ripen in fall; they haveblack seeds that are pulverizedand used as seasoning inJapan. Peppery-tasting leavesare slightly numbing to thetongue; they too are used inJapanese cuisine.

Plants grow best in rich, well-drainedsoil in full sun, thoughthey will tolerate light shade.Prune during winter dormancyto remove wayward or crossingbranches.

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