Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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
6 ratings

Thursday - August 07, 2008

From: Philadelphia, PA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Shrubs
Title: Identification of shrub with thorns
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I have a plant in my garden that I need to identify. It is a tall shrub (approx. 10 feet) that has very large thorns on its green branches. It is now showing small white flowers. I don't know if it looses its leaves (groups of 3 leaves together) over the winter as this is a new property for me. The thorns on this plant are approx. 1-2 inches long and cover the entire plant. Any ideas what this might be? I've never seen anything like it. A neighbor told me she thought it was called "Crown of Thorns" or that it might be something in the orange fruit family. Please help!

ANSWER:

Euphorbia milii (crown-of-thorns) is a native of Madagascar and does have lots of thorns on its stems but it only grows to about 3 feet high. Also, I doubt it would survive Pennsylvania winters since it is hardy to USDA Hardiness Zones 8 to 11 and Pennsylvania Hardiness Zones are mainly 5 and 6.

Here are possibilities for native Pennsylvania shrubs with thorns:

Crataegus phaenopyrum (Washinton hawthorn) 

Crataegus flava (yellowleaf howthorne) 

If none of these happens to be your shrub, please send us photos and we will do our best to identify it.  Please take photos of the whole plant and closeups of the thorns and of the leaves.  Visit the Ask Mr. Smarty Plants page to read instructions (under "Plant Identification" for submitting photos. 

 

 

More Shrubs Questions

Growing Sophora gypsophila from seed
April 23, 2008 - Sophora gypsophila B.L. Turner & Powell Do you have any information on growing this small tree from seed? I have a few seeds and would like to try. What conditions break seed dormancy? I have grown ...
view the full question and answer

Transplanting Esperanza in Abilene TX
November 03, 2012 - I have 3 beautiful Gold Star Esperanzas that are too large and need to be transplanted. How can I do this and what time of year. They are five years old and always return in the spring.
view the full question and answer

Removal of yaupon stumps in Midland TX
March 31, 2010 - How is the best way to remove Yaupon tree stumps? We have 4 of them.
view the full question and answer

Brown leaves on Bottlebrush shrubs after freeze in Georgetown, TX
January 31, 2010 - I have Bottlebrush shrubs that have all brown leaves after the freezes that we have experienced here in central Texas. Will they be ok?
view the full question and answer

Evergreen shrubs for urns at entryway in Midland, Texas
November 16, 2009 - I am looking for plants for large urns at my entry .. prefer something evergreen. The urns are about 3' tall with an opening of 10-12" .. also prefer a plant that is not too bushy or whose roots wi...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.