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Old 07-03-2017, 08:58 AM   #1
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On my recent visit to my favorite native plant nursery to pick up several flats of plugs and some shrubs that I had ordered, the owner gave me a few extras (hmm...I will add that to the reasons why it is my favorite. ). Among them, were these prickly ash with which I am unfamiliar. Zanthoxylum americanum

A Prickly Question...-20170703_095606.jpg

I have looked it up...and I see that it needs full sun and that it forms colonies. Does anyone have any experience with these either in the wild or in your own garden?

Thank you.

I am trying to figure out where they will fit--I already have things pretty well mapped out in my head now (that took several years of living here to develop). I am thinking about either the hedgerow or my "terrace slope" where I have added or plan to add sassafras, quaking aspen, highbush blueberries, fragrant sumac, and some Viburnums...oh, along with some shrub dogwoods.

I am not sure that these would fit in with the mix...and I am a bit concerned about the colonizing habit (and just a little bit about the thorns. )

I may allow a colony at the edge of the meadow.

Your thoughts are appreciated.
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Last edited by dapjwy; 07-03-2017 at 09:19 AM. Reason: Correcting for autocorrect!
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Old 07-03-2017, 10:12 AM   #2
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It is a hostplant for giant swallowtail butterflies so that makes it good in my book.

I know one of my local metroparks has it because they raise the GSTs I give them on it. That said, I've never seen it in person so I don't know how much space it has taken over at the park.
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Old 07-03-2017, 09:22 PM   #3
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It is a hostplant for giant swallowtail butterflies so that makes it good in my book.

I know one of my local metroparks has it because they raise the GSTs I give them on it. That said, I've never seen it in person so I don't know how much space it has taken over at the park.
I am excited about the fact that it is a host plant. I definitely want it, and I will plant them.

I am starting to think about planting it in the front corner of the property where it can spread into the hedgerow and that corner of the meadow. There was staghorn sumac there, but it seems to be dying out (and growing elsewhere on the property).

Even just typing that sentence made me realize that the hedgerow still has some Tartarian (?) honeysuckle that I'm still trying to remove--I would much rather plant these in their place. So, that corner and, perhaps, a spot or two in the hedgerow.

I think I have figured it out...just "talking it through" has helped.
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Old 07-03-2017, 09:29 PM   #4
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I would still like to know more about its natural habitat and what naturally grows with it, so please share your experiences.
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Old 07-06-2017, 11:50 AM   #5
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I have prickly ash in a few places, some in the yard and some in the woods. They don't need full sun, most of mine are in part sun and have been doing fine there for over 20 years.

They spread mostly by underground runners, so unless you put an underground barrier around the ones you plant they will spread some. They are not a fast spreader like Canadian goldenrod so they are not that difficult to control when they go where you don't want them.

You can cut the new shoots off with a hand pruner, or if it's an area that you mow occasionally that will control them too. I would say that cutting off the unwanted shoots every 2 or 3 years would be sufficient to control the spread.

Do not put them in a place that you want to walk through. Mature plants will not let you pass without paying a price.
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Old 07-10-2017, 07:13 AM   #6
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I have prickly ash in a few places, some in the yard and some in the woods. They don't need full sun, most of mine are in part sun and have been doing fine there for over 20 years.

They spread mostly by underground runners, so unless you put an underground barrier around the ones you plant they will spread some. They are not a fast spreader like Canadian goldenrod so they are not that difficult to control when they go where you don't want them.

You can cut the new shoots off with a hand pruner, or if it's an area that you mow occasionally that will control them too. I would say that cutting off the unwanted shoots every 2 or 3 years would be sufficient to control the spread.

Do not put them in a place that you want to walk through. Mature plants will not let you pass without paying a price.
Great information. Thank you very much, NEWisc.

Now I am even more unsure where to put them!

My thoughts, so far, were to put them at the edge of the meadow in the far front corner of our property--where the hedgerow meets the meadow. I still like that spot, however, not only is this near a telephone pole, a path passes by that area. I have no desire to pay a price every time I pass by. ...and I am sure no one working on the power lines would appreciate this native planted nearby.

That said, if I put it far enough away from the pole, then I will only have to be concerned about the path. Most likely, they would access the pole from the roadside, not down the slope on my property anyway (but I will still keep it at a distance. The pros to this spot are that I mow the path which would take care of any runners...and there is a drainage ditch between the path and the adjoining property. This would keep it from spreading to the other side (which is a driveway anyway...and up a little slope).

How easily could I prune branches that may grow towards the path?

If I put it in less sun, will it still bloom? Do yours make berries in part sun?

Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge and experience.
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Old 07-11-2017, 12:22 PM   #7
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You're welcome, glad to help. Sounds like you've got a well thought out plan.

As for pruning, as long as you wear some nice thick leather gloves I don't think you will have a problem with that.

They are more robust in full sun, but the ones that I have in part shade still bloom and produce berries; just fewer of them. The flowers and berries are not really a primary benefit of this shrub though, I rarely notice them unless I am specifically looking for them. It's not like a dogwood or viburnum where the flowers and berries really catch your eye and draw your attention to them. The primary benefits are the host plant function and providing a very safe place for birds to nest.
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Old 07-12-2017, 09:56 PM   #8
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You're welcome, glad to help. Sounds like you've got a well thought out plan.

As for pruning, as long as you wear some nice thick leather gloves I don't think you will have a problem with that.

They are more robust in full sun, but the ones that I have in part shade still bloom and produce berries; just fewer of them. The flowers and berries are not really a primary benefit of this shrub though, I rarely notice them unless I am specifically looking for them. It's not like a dogwood or viburnum where the flowers and berries really catch your eye and draw your attention to them. The primary benefits are the host plant function and providing a very safe place for birds to nest.
I do have a pair of heavy-duty gloves--I bought them last year. So, if they need pruned, I will be prepared.

Yes, I read that the berries are not a huge draw for birds. Host plant and nesting site sound fine to me.

Thanks again for sharing your experience.

I have never noticed these in the wild. They are new to me.
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