Stop 10 - Toothache Tree
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Toothache tree
Prickly ash tree, otherwise known as the toothache tree.


Pickly ash close-up
Prickly ash tree close-up.


Dead tree with large knot
Dead tree with large knot on the side.


Stop 10 vicinity

Stop 10 vicinity and directions to the next stop.

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Things to see at this stop:

  • The prickly ash tree is on the right side near the end of Bridge 6.
  • There is a long-dead tree stump beside the prickly ash with a large knot.


A few feet from the trail, at the edge of the shallow ravine, is a small tree with strange little pyramid-shaped protuberances on its bark. This is a Prickly-ash (Zanthoxylum clavaherculis - a wonderfully evocative name that translates literally as "yellow-wood club of Hercules"). It is not an ash at all but is cousin to the citrus; it has a number of curious vernacular names including toothache tree and tickle tongue. It is said that the American Indians used this plant as a remedy for toothache, as chewing the leaves, berries, or bark creates a tingling sensation of the mouth and tongue that served as a counter-irritant.

The leaves of this plant are much favored by caterpillars of the Giant Swallowtail butterfly, and the berries are very popular with birds. Every barbed-wire fence between here and San Antonio is lined with young prickly-ash seedlings deposited there by perching birds. This efficient means of seed dispersal via the digestive system of birds is also used by cherry laurel, hackberries, mistletoe, green-briers, and many other varieties of plants.


Directions to the next stop:

  • Continue across Bridge 6 and walk 10 paces to Bridge 7.
  • The trail splits 15 paces after Bridge 7.
  • The left fork is Midway Crossing.
  • This is the next stop.

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