July 24, 2023

Once a month I plan on posting about a native medicinal plant for the garden. I'm in Minnesota so my shares will be specifically related to Minnesota so make sure to check if the plants I write about can grow in your area and aren't invasive if you live outside the state. 

To start off I'll talk about Prickly Ash (Zanthoxylum americium). The first time I tried prickly ash was quite the experience. My daughter nibbled on a berry first and said her lips tingled, her tongue was a little numb and she couldn't stop drooling. She handed me a berry and I nibbled and nothing happened so I nibbled on a second and again, nothing happened. I told her to give me a third so I nibbled on a third. Suddenly it hit!! I was drooling like a Basset Hound, my whole mouth was tingling, and then my lips and tip of tongue were numb for 30 minutes. 

Prickly Ash is not related to the ash species of trees, it's actually part of the olive family. It's great for wildlife since butterflies are attracted to the flowers and birds use the tree for shelter. Native Americans would use the tree for medicinal purposes. They'd chew on the fruit and bark because it produces a numbing effect so it helped relieve tooth pain. Modern herbalists use prickly ash to treat arthritis and digestive issues. I love it because the crushed leaves and berries smell like a lemon and nibbling on the berries produces a fun sensory experience. I haven't tried it in any recipes yet but I know others have and love it. I may try it with tea sometime.