Hercules-club is a small to medium tree or large shrub with a rounded, spreading crown. Trunks short to 18 inches in diameter, but usually much less. Bark light gray, roughened by numerous large spine-tipped corky-pyramidal projections, losing spines with age. Elliptical to lanceolate leaves, temperate deciduous, compound, aromatic, shiny green above, to about 8 inches in length. Typically, 10-20 feet in height in South Florida; to 65 feet in Florida. Often as broad as tall.
Follicles produced in clusters, individual fruits enclosed in a brown husk that splits open at maturity to reveal a shiny red-brown to black seed. Dioecious and tiny flowers appear in early-spring.
Larval host plant for giant swallowtail (Papilio cresphontes) butterflies.
By Tony Mauriello