En EspaŅol

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
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
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

Need a shade tree for an enclosed courtyard in Las Cruces, NM
September 24, 2012 - I HAVE A WEST FACING COURTYARD ENCLOSED WITH A 6' STUCCO WALL AND I WANT TO ADD A SHADE TREE. CURRENTLY HAVE SEVERAL MESQUITE TREES, DESERT WILLOW, CHINESE PISTACHE & VITEX TREES IN THE FRONT AREA ...
view the full question and answer

Mountain laurel planting over Frederickburg limestone
March 22, 2012 - We have rocky limestone shelves on our property. We want to plant a mountain laurel. Are the roots strong enough to break through the limestone or should we try to find another location? The limestone...
view the full question and answer

Propagation of possumhaw from Austin
May 22, 2014 - I planted a possumhaw holly plant about 3 months ago and am really excited to watch it grow from its current 3-foot height. It is starting to berry right now. My question is about those berries: (Cle...
view the full question and answer

Identification of shrub in Florida
July 03, 2008 - Hello Mr. Smarty Plants, I have a question about identifying some bushes. The bushes I have seen through areas of Florida and they seem to be used most often as natural fences. These are the charac...
view the full question and answer

Erosion control on slope from Columbia SC
April 25, 2013 - We are in the process of having a new home built in Columbia South Carolina. Part of the front yard has a steep slope starting approximately four feet from the corner of the house and running to the ...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center