Stop 10 - Toothache Tree
Previous stop         Next stop

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.

Previous stop         Next stop

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.

Previous stop         Next stop