Szechuan: A Bit of Botany
considerations for growing and cultivating szechuan

Zanthoxylum simulans is a spreading shrub or sometimes small tree of the Rutaceae family that can grow to heights of 7 meters.

The plant's pinnate leaves are 7-12.5 centimeters long, with 7-11 leaflets—the leaflets are 3–5 centimeters long and 1.5–2 centimeters broad. There are The stems and leaf petioles have numerous short spines, and large knobs on the branches.

The plant's flowers are produced in slender cymes, each flower about 4–5 mm diameter. The 3–4 mm berry that is produced has a rough reddish brown shell that splits open to release the black seeds from inside.

The husk or hull (pericarp) around the seeds are referred to as Szechuan or Szechuan pepper and may be used whole or powdered as a spice.

common names & nomenclature
The botanical name comes from xanthon xylon meaning "blond wood" in Greek. This name is in reference to the brightly colored sapwood evident in several of the species.

Also known as:
indonesian lemon pepper, szechwan pepper, szechuan pepper, szechuan, sichuan pepper, chinese prickly-ash, flatspine prickly-ash)

Szechuan: Cultivation & Harvesting
considerations for growing and harvesting szechuan

Grows on hillsides and in open woods, in sun to shade.

Seed is best sown in a greenhouse as soon as it is ripe in the autumn. Transplant seedlings into individual pots when large enough to handle, plant out in the garden the following summer.

This plant is easily grown in loamy soils in most positions, however it prefers a good deep well-drained and moisture-retentive soil.

The shiny black seeds have a very gritty sand-like texture, and are therefore discarded or ignored during harvesting. Focus is on the husks around the seeds. These husks are collected and used whole or are powdered.

Store whole szechuan pepper (seed husks) or powdered szechuan in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.

Szechuan: Where in the World
habitat and range for szechuan

Zanthoxylum simulans, the plant that gives us the spice Szechuan pepper, is native to eastern China and Taiwan.