En Español

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
1 rating

Tuesday - July 08, 2014

From: Horseshoe Bay , TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Problem Plants, Trees
Title: Controlling a shrub/tree with lots of thorns and flowers similar to beebrush, but lots of thorns
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I live in Horseshoe Bay, Llano County with 1.5 acres of natural habitat. There is a plant that I have always called Cat's Claw but in researching Cat's Claw, I may have misidentified it. It has a flower like Bee Brush (Bush) but it has thorns that seem to catch you at every turn. It is ubiquitous in my habitat and the only way I have found to control it is by pruning annually. First, what is it actually called and second, how can I remove it from my environment. For me it is a noxious weed.

ANSWER:

Mr. Smarty Plants assumes you mean for the beebrush, either Aloysia gratissima (Whitebrush) or Aloysia wrightii (Wright's beebrush)

There are several plants in our Native Plant Database that grow in your general vicinity that have catclaw or cat's claw as part of their names.  Below are some likely culprits:

Acacia greggii (Catclaw acacia) and the most common variety, Acacia greggii var. wrightii (Catclaw acacia).  One of their common names is "Long-flower catclaw"

Acacia rigidula (Blackbrush acacia)

These three have blossoms that have the same general shape as the beebrushes.  The next two have round-shaped blossoms.

Acacia berlandieri (Guajillo)

Acacia roemeriana (Roundflower catclaw)

Another possibility is that you have Prosopis glandulosa (Honey mesquite) trees.  Their blossoms look very much like either of the beebrushes above.  They have lots of spines, especially the young ones; however, they are long and not curved like catclaws. Although their USDA Plants Database distribution map doesn't show it as occurring in Llano County I do know that it can be found there.  The USDA distribution maps often are missing data because the counties have not been thoroughly surveyed and reported.  Mesquite is a very aggressive plant and controlling it is a priority with many ranchers.  Cutting it down or digging it up is one method.  Another method is by chemical control.  You may have to use both together.  Texas A&M Agrilife Extension Texas Natural Resources Server outlines a three-step method in "How to Beat Mesquite" and here is another similar article, "Mesquite eradication takes patience", from Steve Sturtz the Tom Green County agricultural and natural resource extension agent for Texas AgriLife Extension.

The methods described above for the elimination of the mesquite should be applicable to whatever shrub/tree is your pest. Please realize that you need to be cautious using any herbicide.  If not carefully used, it can kill desirable plants.  Always read and follow carefully the safety instructions given on the herbicide container.

 

 

 

From the Image Gallery


Whitebrush
Aloysia gratissima

Wright's beebrush
Aloysia wrightii

Gregg acacia
Acacia greggii

Wright acacia
Acacia greggii var. wrightii

Wright acacia
Acacia greggii var. wrightii

Guajillo
Acacia berlandieri

Roemer acacia
Acacia roemeriana

Blackbrush acacia
Acacia rigidula

Honey mesquite
Prosopis glandulosa

Honey mesquite
Prosopis glandulosa

Honey mesquite
Prosopis glandulosa

More Problem Plants Questions

Update on controlling live oak suckers with newspapers, cardboard and mulch
September 12, 2014 - Can we get an update on the march 2011 topic of live oak suckers? I am wondering if the newspaper/cardboard/mulch layers continued to take care of the problem. Thanks!
view the full question and answer

Is Robinia pseudoaccia a good replacement tree for Shumard oaks in Austin TX?
February 27, 2013 - Recently two of our Shumard trees in the front of our house died. Both trees were small/medium in size having only been growing for 13-17 years. I've been reading about Black Locust trees which accor...
view the full question and answer

Problem with weeds in the buffalograss
June 11, 2008 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, I'm about to throw in the towel! My back 'lawn' of buffalo grass (609) is almost all 'weeds'! Native ruellia and lyre leaf sage have taken over and as the area has gott...
view the full question and answer

Aggressive Frogfruit
September 17, 2009 - I have frogfruit voluntarily growing in my flower beds. I had intended to use it as a ground cover but am concerned that it is taking over. Will it kill (smother) my flowers that I have planted for bu...
view the full question and answer

Identity of plant that smells like oranges in Alpine, TX
August 16, 2012 - There are patches of flat bushy like plants in lawn, smells like orange. Areas may be 10" and spreading, but when pulled has small root. How can I get rid of this plant and what is it?
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center