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

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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
Senegalia greggii

Wright acacia
Senegalia wrightii

Wright acacia
Senegalia wrightii

Guajillo
Senegalia berlandieri

Roemer acacia
Senegalia roemeriana

Blackbrush acacia
Vachellia rigidula

Honey mesquite
Prosopis glandulosa

Honey mesquite
Prosopis glandulosa

Honey mesquite
Prosopis glandulosa

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