Aug. 28, 2022

Hercules' club, Zanthoxylum clava-herculis

You will note the sharp thorns on these twigs. By the time those are part of large branches or the trunk they are wider based and much larger. They give Hercules' club a fearsome appearance. It's not clear that the ancients imagined their greatest hero with spikes on his club. Many carvings illustrating his battle with the invulnerable lion do not include spikes. And it doesn't seem they would do much good against a foe who's skin can't be penetrated. But the spikes make a good visual, particularly if added to your Hercules' club amulets. And in any case, the branches would make really fearsome clubs. But these days this small tree is mostly good for confronting toothaches. If you chew the leaves it can temporarily numb your mouth. This version of Hercules' club grows in AL, AR, FL, GA, LA, MS, NC, OK, SC, TX, and VA. Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, Travis Co TX, 4/17/22. Rue family, Rutaceae.