There are about three types of Zanthoxylum pepper used in the Chinese Sichuan region: Sichuan pepper, Majiao and Qinghuajiao.



  • Chinese: Majiao 麻椒
  • Latin: Zanthoxylum bungeanum
  • Colour: Brown

Majiao is a species of Zanthoxylum closely related to Sichuan pepper (Zanthoxylum simulans). Outside of Sichuan, Sichuan pepper is known as ’Chuanjiao’ 川椒 – literally ’Sichuan pepper’. But in Sichuan, people usually call it ’Huajiao’ 花椒 meaning ‘flower pepper’. This is because, Sichuanese has other varieties of Zanthoxylum pepper.

As can be discerned from the photos, Majiao is yellowish brown in colour, whereas Sichuan pepper is reddish brown.


Sichuan Pepper

  • Chinese: Chuanjiao 川椒, Huajiao 花椒
  • Latin: Zanthoxylum bungeanum
  • Colour: Reddish

Sichuan pepper is aromatic, and numbing. Majiao is even more numbing, but not at all aromatic. Hence often, a combination of the two peppers are required in Sichuan cuisine.


Mastic-leaf prickly ash

  • Chinese: Chuanjiao 川椒, Huajiao 花椒
  • English: Sichuan pepper
  • Latin: Zanthoxylum bungeanum
  • Colour: Greenish

A third type of Zanthoxylum pepper, is the Qinghuajiao 青花椒 (Zanthoxylum schinifolium), sometimes known in English as the mastic-leaf prickly ash. It is also known in Japanese as ’sansho’ (山椒) and Korean as ’sancho’ (산초, 山椒). It is the least numbing of all three but is more aromatic than normal Sichuan pepper. As its Chinese name suggest, it is greenish brown in colour. And another Chinese name for it is Xiangjiaoji 香椒子 – ‘little aromatic pepper’.