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

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

Zanthoxylum piperitum

Japan Pepper, Sansho
Rutaceae
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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