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?


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
Not Yet Rated

Friday - April 17, 2009

From: Beach Lake, PA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Invasive Plants
Title: Plant identification of tall stalk with many thorns
Answered by: Nan Hampton


Dear Mr. Smarty Pants: After we raked all the leaves, I found three or four plants on my property that are thin tall stalks with many thorns. Leaves are just growing, so I cannot describe them. They are between two to three feet tall. Are they invasive? I want to move them closer to our deck to keep the deer away. Thanks.


From your description I think the most likely suspect is Aralia spinosa (devil's walkingstick). Here are more photos from the USDA, Missouri Plants, and from Vanderbilt University. It is listed in the Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health database at Invasive.org.

Another possibility is that it is one of the greenbriers such as Smilax tamnoides (bristly greenbrier)Smilax glauca (cat greenbrier) or Smilax rotundifolia (roundleaf greenbrier)

If one of these isn't your plant, please take photos and send them to us and we will do our best to identify it.  For instructions on how to submit photos please visit Mr. Smarty Plants' Plant Identification page.

Aralia spinosa




More Invasive Plants Questions

Ivy a suitable ground cover in Live Oaks from Gulfport MS
April 17, 2014 - Will Ivy be a safe and suitable ground cover for old growth Live Oak trees in coastal Mississippi?
view the full question and answer

Non-native citronella mosquito plant wintering inside in Charlotte NC
October 20, 2011 - Can I bring the citronella mosquito plant in the house over the winter, or should it be planted outside. I live in Charlotte, NC.
view the full question and answer

Removal of trumpet creeper in Elkview MI
April 09, 2010 - Thank you for your informative response about the trumpet creeper. As pretty as it is- it will have to go! Trees are more important. Thanks again!
view the full question and answer

Invasive common giant mustard
March 14, 2007 - I have been seeing a lot of a small shrubby plants with yellow flowers all over Austin, mainly along roadsides. Back in my day the first wildflowers of Spring were the paintbrushes and the bluebonnets...
view the full question and answer

Blackeyed Susans becoming invasive in Fredericksburg VA
August 10, 2009 - Are the roots of the Blackeyed Susan (BES) invasive enough to actually destroy bulbs. BES have moved into a bed exactly where my oriental lilies were..this year the whole row of red lilies (which had...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center