Plant of the Day
Tuesday 27 January 2015
The amazing bark of Zanthoxylum americanum (prickly ash, toothache tree)
a small tree or large shrub. Grown mainly for the trunk it has spiny young shoots with small yellowish green flowers crowded around the joints of the previous season’s shoots. The bark and fruit have a pungent acrid taste that is said to numb the mouth. Here it is underplanted by Danae racemosa
(Alexandrian laurel) which can cope well with the dry shade. I find the contrast of this planting makes me smile as the tough persona created by the tree bark is embraced by a plant often called ‘soft ruscus’ in the floristry trade.