Zanthroxylum simulans propagating

Anyone got any tips on germinating zanthoxylum simulans (sichuan or szechuan pepper) seeds? I’ve germinated one plant but it was completely random and I’ve no idea of the optimum conditions and I suspect that they are hard coated seeds. Also, has anyone experience in propagating sichuan, e.g. hardwood cuttings??

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Here’s what Richo at Strictly Medicinals has to say about germinating Zanthroxylum simulans. It sounds like a pretty straightforward cold stratification.

…Sow seed in the fall for germination in the spring. Alternatively, give 90 days cold, moist refrigeration (put seed in moist medium in a plastic bag and refrigerate, not freeze) and then plant in warm conditions. Germination can take from 30 to 90 days, although we find them to be pretty reliable germinators. Individuate seedlings to pots and grow on for a year or two before planting to landscape.

Strictly Medicinals (formerly Horizon Herbs) is an excellent nursery, BTW! They have some fascinating and unusual plants.


Cheers thanks for the info. Cold stratification is usually a good strategy. I was wondering whether the seeds had a hard coat? I’ve some seeds arriving soon so I’ll experiment and report back.

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If memory serves – and it may not :thinking:-- these Zanthroxylum seeds do indeed have a hard seed coat. I’ve got a batch currently slumbering/ stratifying in my fridge. I don’t remember doing any form of scarification (aka, breaking out the sandpaper or testing my skills with a steak knife).

When we get a little closer to springtime, I’ll let you know how I fare in getting them to pop. You too please - let me know how you succeed. Hopefully we’ll both have excellent germination rates!

I know that these plants are dioecious, but according to Richo, even a lone female will produce the tingly, electric seeds that give Szechuan food it’s unique flavor.


I look forward to comparing notes on germination :slightly_smiling_face:

I had a bunch of seeds this fall to play around with. I got no germination with unstratified seeds. What seemed to work was to soak the seeds for 24 hours before mixing with moist potting soil and sticking in the fridge. After 6 weeks of the cold moist stratification, I had a lot of germination. I didn’t count seeds, so not sure of the germ percentage. But, I would guess somewhere between 60 and 70%. Interestingly, seeds that were stratified without first receiving the 24 hr soak did not germinate well at all…maybe less than 10%.


Interesting - I suspect the hard seed coat needs to be broken down. I soak rubus seeds in acid or bleach depending on their species. I’ll certainly soak these sichuan seeds overnight before cold stratification. Thanks a bunch

I’m curious how these are progressing.

Any chance of an update?


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Hi there Scott, I soaked the seeds overnight in water, they are now stratifying in the fridge for a few weeks. When they come out I’ll get a heat mat under them. Work in progress :slightly_smiling_face:

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Scott and Julie,

I had one seed pop just a couple of days ago! This was after a cold stratification for ~ three months. The sprout is fairly non-descript, though I’ll attach a photo sometime today when I’m home from work.

I’m hoping I’ll get a few more up in the coming days.

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I’ll try to figure out how to post some photos later. I have a bunch of seedlings that are at least a couple of months old.

Another comment/question: I’ve read that these plants are dioecious, and that both a male and female are required for fruit production. However, the person that I got the fertile seed from only has one bush. I would be very surprised if there was another bush in the local area for pollination. Does anyone know if some are hermaphroditic or parthenogenetic? I’ll try to get some photos from her when her bush is in flower.

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one of the sites I read stated that female plants CAN produce fruit/seed without another plant. Whether it is because the plant also produces some perfect flowers/some male flowers or just produces without pollination was unclear.



Here’s a picture of my one little sprout. As I mentioned, it doesn’t look like much right now.

I found another seed just beginning to germinate too. :face_with_monocle:



Have not seen any update.

I just received some fresh seeds from this year. I can start some in fridge and some out in the garden. Not sure if I need to waste some seeds to start indoors right away.

Hey Redsun,

I did manage to grow out two plants over the summer. Still only a couple of feet tall, but it’s a start! They are outside, and I’m pretty sure they’ve dropped all of their leaves for the winter, but I’ll check and take a photo if there’s anything to see.

I’m in zone 6, and according to Richo at Strictly Medicinals, they’re hardy to zone 5 so they should be good outside. Mine are planted next to a stone wall, so hopefully they’ll be a little insulated this winter.

They were pretty solid all summer, not much care needed.

Let me know how you fare! Where did you get your seeds?

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How different from American Prickly Ash (Zanthoxylum americanum) is this stuff?

I received the “fresh” seeds from my friend’s harvest this year. Not sure how long the harvest was, a couple of months?

I’ve divided the seeds into 3 batches, one in fridge in coco coir and in ziplock. One in coco coir in my cutting starting box. The last one is in one gallon pot and I plant to bury most of the pot in garden soil outside. Just like to try it to see what works better.

Still like to get a seedling right now if anyone has extra. It is just so slow to start from seeds if they grow.

Not sure. The fresh seeds smells very strong.

Some say the “green” is more rare than the “red” variety we have.

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Thanks. I’ve got loads of American/common prickly ash here. When I bushhog it it smells strongly of citrus.

Here are the seed I got. They do not spell any citrus. This is used in a lot of Asian dishes. From tofu to seafood.

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