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
1 rating

Saturday - June 11, 2005

From: Freeport, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Privacy Screening, Cacti and Succulents, Shrubs
Title: Smarty Plants on bio-security
Answered by: Nan Hampton and Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

Hello, My friend and I are summer interns at the Bryan Mound Strategic Petroleum Reserve Site in Freeport, Texas. Our jobs as the interns is to find a plant that is friendly to the animals around our site but that can also act as a barrier to people. We have security devices on the fence already but would like to add a sort of bio-security before the fences. We would greatly aprreciate if you could share some advice with us at to what plants would work best in our area. Thank you.

ANSWER:

Several plants come to mind.

One, Tasajillo, or Pencil Cactus (Opuntia leptocaulis) is a member of the Family Cactaceae (Cactus family). It is shrub-like and grows up to 5 feet high. In the winter it is filled with bright red berries, giving it another of its common names, Christmas cactus. Its many sharp spines and the fact that it tends to form inpenetrable thickets makes it a good deterrent against intruders.

Another plant, Agarita (Mahonia trifoliata) is a member of the Family Berberidaceae (Barberry Family). It is evergreen with holly-shaped leaves. These leaves have stiff spines on their three-pronged tips. It is shrub-like also and grows up to 8 feet tall. In the spring it has fragrant small yellow flowers that produce delicious red berries that are enjoyed by birds and other wildlife. It, too, can form thickets as a barrier.

There are two members of the Family Agavaceae (Century-Plant family) that would meet your criteria. They are Spanish dagger (Yucca treculeana) and Buckley yucca (Yucca constricta). Both have long leaves with sharp spines at the tips and both have attractive flowers that serve as hosts to various butterflies and moths.

You could possibly use all four of these plants in combination to form an attractive and effective barrier.

 

More Cacti and Succulents Questions

Are century plants (Agave spp.) poisonous?
September 24, 2008 - About 2 weeks ago, I was poked in the arm by a Century Plant, which caused a pretty big bruise to form. I didn't think much of it at first, but now, 2 weeks later, the bruise hasn't healed at all. S...
view the full question and answer

Pollinating moth of Arkansas Yucca from Arlington TX
May 15, 2012 - What is the pollinating moth of the Arkansas yucca. I have Desert willows which is the larval host for white-winged moth, but the yuccas are still not seeding. What other larval hosts plants can I p...
view the full question and answer

Agave in a vase of water in Tacoma WA
July 19, 2009 - I have a agave plant that is in a vase of water only. It was given to me about 3 years ago, still growing but rotting inside of the water. Is it suppose to be in dirt? How to I transfer into a pot ...
view the full question and answer

Century plant leaves yellowing from Magnolia TX
July 04, 2013 - The leaves on my large Agave/Century plant are turning yellow. The bottom leaves, touching the ground are dying. Plant is 5.5" tall, 6" across & approx 10 yrs old. Recently we put red mulch around t...
view the full question and answer

Boundary plants to control cats
June 06, 2006 - Is there a plant especially ANNOYING to cats that I could plant along my fence line to keep him away from the street beyond? It would have to be hardy enough for hot temps & full sun. Thanks!
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