Sechuan pepper pollination

With hybrid plants in general you will often see traits that differ from both parents in addition to intermediate traits due to unique gene combinations not found in either parent. If they are apomictic it will be very challenging to hybridize even if intentionally pollinated by the other species.

I just took a look at observations on iNaturalist. Assuming the id’s are correct there are some observations from China marked as Z. simulans which show the flower clusters in bloom and it’s clear to see they are staminate instead of pistilate. In other words they are male.

If some plants only have male flower and other plants only female flowers, sounds like (based on my limited reading)…a Dioecious reproduction system but females are also capable of apomictic reproduction (cloning themselves in absence of male pollen).

Apomictic doesn’t mean they only clone themselves in the absence of male pollen. Apomictic plants can clone themselves even if pollen is available. That’s why it can be so hard to do plant breeding with apomictic plants. The apomictic embryos simply aren’t receptive to pollination.

I’m assuming apomictic Sechuan plants are pure female based on the discussion here. If Apomictic plants have tendency to clone themselves, I’d expect ever generations, this tendency would strip the species of pollen producing plants. Do you think the apomictic Sechuan plants are hermaphrodites?

I saw no pollen on mine. However, just because the cultivated genotype is apomictic doesn’t mean that all wild female specimens of the same species are apomictic. In the related Citrus apomixis varies between cultivars with some producing almost exclusively by apomixis and others rarely or not at all. When brought into cultivation Z. simulans may have accidentally been selected for apomixis on account of it causing reliable fruit set.

Also, in at least some of the Zanthoxylum species “male” plants are actually weakly hermaphrodite and still produce a small number of fruits and seeds.

I have quite a few Prickly Ash, Zanthoxylum americanum which the birds seem to sow. I’ve never paid attention to the pollination specifics, but now I’m curious if that trait is common to the genus. I have never tried Sechuan pepper, but from descriptions the fruit/seed seem to have the same numbing effect , so the other name ‘toothache tree’. They certainly appear similar with the nasty thorns and pinnate foliage.

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I thought my Szechuan pepper was a pure female with no pollen produced, but now I have photo documentation for it. It is for sure female and not hermaphrodite and yet it still sets full crops without pollination so it is definitely parthenocarpic and producing clonal seed.

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How old is your Szechuan pepper before it fruited?

It fruited the first year I owned it and it was a young 1gal pot size.


I just transplanted one in ground with caliper of a pencil and didn’t see any fruit yet. BTW these pepper plants are not the most vigorous growers for me. Hows the vigor for you?

Mine has had reasonably good vigor. Does yours maybe need a little fertilizer?

I have some fruit trees that grow several feet of new growth per year. The pepper plants new growth measures less than 1 feet. I do baby my fruit trees more than the pepper plants though so that could be a major factor. How much new growth do you measure a year?

I didn’t measure, but I’m sure it grew more than a foot each for multiple branches.

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