Zanthoxylum piperitum - (L.)DC.
Common Name Japanese Pepper Tree
Family Rutaceae
USDA hardiness 5-9
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Scrub and hedges in hills and mountains in Japan[58, 184].
Range E. Asia - N. China, Japan, Korea.
Edibility Rating  
Other Uses  
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating  
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun

Translate this page:

You can translate the content of this page by selecting a language in the select box.


Zanthoxylum piperitum Japanese Pepper Tree
Zanthoxylum piperitum Japanese Pepper Tree
Physical Characteristics
 icon of manicon of shrub
Zanthoxylum piperitum is a deciduous Shrub growing to 2 m (6ft) by 2 m (6ft).
It is hardy to zone (UK) 6. It is in flower from Apr to June. The flowers are dioecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but only one sex is to be found on any one plant so both male and female plants must be grown if seed is required)The plant is not self-fertile.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.

Fagara piperita.

Woodland Garden Sunny Edge; Dappled Shade;
Edible Uses
Edible Parts: Leaves.
Edible Uses: Condiment.

Seed - cooked. It is ground into a powder and used as a condiment, a pepper substitute[1, 2, 11, 34, 183]. The fruit can also be used[116]. It is often heated in order to bring out its full flavour and can be mixed with salt for use as a table condiment[183]. The ground and dry-roasted fruit is an ingredient of the Chinese 'five spice powder'[238]. The bark and leaves are used as a spice[2, 105, 238]. Young leaves - raw or cooked. They are used in soups or as a flavouring in salads[177, 179, 183].
Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

Antibacterial;  Antifungal;  Antiperiodic;  Antitussive;  Carminative;  Diuretic;  Parasiticide;  Stimulant;  

Antiperiodic, antitussive, carminative, diuretic, parasiticide, stimulant[178]. The fruit contains a essential oil, flavonoids and isoquinoline alkaloids[279]. It is anthelmintic, antibacterial, antifungal and stomachic[279]. It inhibits the synthesis of prostaglandin and, in larger doses, is toxic to the central nervous system[279]. It is used in Korea in the treatment of tuberculosis, dyspepsis and internal parasites[279]. The resin contained in the bark, and especially in that of the roots, is powerfully stimulant and tonic[82].


Other Uses

None known
Cultivation details
Easily grown in loamy soils in most positions, but prefers a good deep well-drained moisture retentive soil in full sun or semi-shade[1, 11, 200]. A very ornamental plant[1], it is hardy to about -15°c[184]. Flowers are formed on the old wood[206]. The bruised leaves are amongst the most powerfully aromatic of all leaves[245]. Dioecious. Male and female plants must be grown if seed is required. Self-sown seedlings have occasionally been observed growing in bare soil under the parent plant[K].
Seed - best sown in a greenhouse as soon as it is ripe in the autumn. Stored seed may requires up to 3 months cold stratification, though scarification may also help[113]. Sow stored seed in a cold frame as early in the year as possible. Germination should take place in late spring, though it might take another 12 months. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow them on in a cold frame for their first winter. Plant them out in early summer. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, July/August in a frame. Root cuttings, 3cm long, planted horizontally in pots in a greenhouse. Good percentage[78]. Suckers, removed in late winter and planted into their permanent positions[113].
Other Names
Anise pepper, Anise-pepper, Chin chiao, Chinese pepper, Chopinamu, Chop'inamu, Faah jiu, Fagara, Hu chiao, Hua chiao, Hua jiao, Japanese Prickly Ash, Japanischer Pfeffer, Pepper Ash, Poivre du Sechuan, Sansho, Szechwan pepper,
Found In
Asia, Australia, China*, India, Indochina, Indonesia, Japan*, Korea*, SE Asia, Taiwan, Tasmania, Thailand,
Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status
IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :
Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameEdibility RatingMedicinal Rating
Zanthoxylum ailanthoides 21
Zanthoxylum alatumWinged Prickly Ash32
Zanthoxylum americanumPrickly Ash - Northern, Common pricklyash, Northern Prickly Ash23
Zanthoxylum beecheyanum 21
Zanthoxylum bungeanum 23
Zanthoxylum clava-herculisHercules Club. Prickly Ash - Southern, Hercules' club, Southern Prickly Ash23
Zanthoxylum coreanum 11
Zanthoxylum nitidum 02
Zanthoxylum planispinumWinged Prickly Ash32
Zanthoxylum schinifolium 22
Zanthoxylum simulansSzechuan Pepper, Chinese-pepper, Prickly Ash32


Print Friendly and PDF
Expert comment
Botanical References
Links / References
For a list of references used on this page please go here
Readers comment
Thomas   Tue Feb 10 09:44:39 2004
I've found in french literature (cf biblio at the end) the following info : - the powdered dried fruit is named shichimi in Japan and used on food. - Young leaves are used in soups, accompany the miso paste (japanese paste of soja beans) - The flower buds are kept in the soja sauce and rice wine.

Bibliog : - Lesley Bremnes, Les plantes aromatiques et médicinales, Bordas Nature, 1996 - B. Boullard, Les plantes médicinales du monde, Ed. Estem, 2001

Any other details about the plant is welcome! Thank you for the incredible site! Thomas

mona   Mon Jun 6 02:10:39 2005
would anyone know where in the US this might be available through mail order. Thanks, Mona
Dr. H. Gamo   Tue Jun 14 03:51:04 2005
This plant and its seed and spice" sansho" has been prohibited by FDA. I would like to know the reason. FDA might concern some chemical component. Note that sansho is an imporrtant spice for some Japanese dish.
Carlo Brini   Thu Sep 9 15:16:55 2004
what about xantossilin, an isomer of cantatidin? I read that is found in Japanese pepper. Are there any chemical relationship with the cantaridin produced by the spanish fly (Lytta vescicatoria?)
Anton Callaway   Sun Dec 9 2007
As far as I understand, the ban on sansho has been lifted if the material is heated to at least 70 degrees C before shipment. The ban was originally put in place to prevent the spread of citrus canker, a devastating bacterial disease of citrus. Zanthoxylum is also a host of this disease. This genus is in the same family as Citrus.
Dinga Bell   Wed May 7 2008
The FDA has banned "sansho" because they haven't carried out tests on it. Therefore it is suspect. But there is abso;utely no reason for their suspicion other than they are suspicious of everything that is not native to the USA. Which includes about 300,000,000 people? The last comment was mine, but the rest is from FDA source...?
Kelly   Sat Dec 6 2008
You can get it mail order in the US as a plant though "One Green World" ( it is under the Ornamentals and More section. Have fun. Kelly
Stephen Butler   Sun Oct 25 2009
Be careful! I chewed some raw seeds of Zanthoxylum piperitum, some of the seed lodged in my throat and it went into a spasm of swallowing to remove it - I could not breathe properly for 5 mins as I was swallowing so hard and fast. Eventually recovered, but only after being on my hands and knees for ten minutes.
   May 22 2012 12:00AM
My zanthoxylum piperitums have been steadily growing from the cute little spindles they were in spring of 2011 when I received them. One of mine was attacked by spider mites and I sprayed it with a pesticide to kill them. Both plants leafed out as expected and are busy growing new branches/root complexes. I am hopeful they will bloom either next spring or the spring of 2014. I currently use the spring leaves (not too much), called kinome in Japan, as a gift to a friend who runs a sushi bar and is from Japan. He says kinome is very hard to find here.
   Jan 8 2014 12:00AM
Actually this plant IS self-fertile. On every plant there are BOTH male and female flowers, although every flower is either male or female.
QR Code

What's this?

This is a QR code (short for Quick Response) which gives fast-track access to our website pages. QR Codes are barcodes that can be read by mobile phone (smartphone) cameras. This QR Code is unique to this page. All plant pages have their own unique code. For more information about QR Codes click here.

1. Copy and print the QR code to a plant label, poster, book, website, magazines, newspaper etc and even t-shirts.
2. Smartphone users scan the QR Code which automatically takes them to the webpage the QR Code came from.
3. Smartphone users quickly have information on a plant directly for the website on their phone.
Add a comment

If you have important information about this plant that may help other users please add a comment or link below. Only comments or links that are felt to be directly relevant to a plant will be included. If you think a comment/link or information contained on this page is inaccurate or misleading we would welcome your feedback at [email protected]. If you have questions about a plant please use the Forum on this website as we do not have the resources to answer questions ourselves.

* Please note: the comments by website users are not necessarily those held by PFAF and may give misleading or inaccurate information.

To leave a comment please Register or login here All comments need to be approved so will not appear immediately.

Subject : Zanthoxylum piperitum  

Plant Uses

Edible Uses
Medicinal Uses
Other Plant uses
Woodland Gardening
Why Perennial Plants?
Top Edible Plants
Top Medicinal Plants
Garden Design

Twiter      Facebook


Content Help
Support Us
Old Database Search
About Us
Sign In

Stay informed about PFAFs progress,
challenges and hopes by signing up for
our free email ePost. You will receive
a range of benefits including:
* Important announcements and news
* Exclusive content not on the website
* Updates on new information &
functionality of the website & database

We will not sell or share your email address.
You can unsubscribe at anytime.