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

Strange form of Dasylirion sp. (sotol)
December 27, 2008 - Mr. Smarty: I have a client with a huge (2 ft. diameter trunk), multi-headed dasylirion. On one or more of the heads, the leaves arch inward instead of outward. Someone said this is because of an inju...
view the full question and answer

Freeze damage on Barrel Cactus in Llano TX
March 04, 2011 - I believe my barrel cactus has freeze damage. The flesh turned yellow and is now turning dark. The base is still green. If I cut off the damaged top portion, leaving the green base, should it survive?...
view the full question and answer

Need plants to replace cedars on a 40 degree slope in Boerne, TX.
August 28, 2012 - My backyard is a roughly 40 degree slope that is covered with cedars. The slope is basically all rock, what can I grow here to replace the cedar which drink too much water. I would still like the area...
view the full question and answer

Spineless prickly pear from Lago Vista TX
April 30, 2012 - We visited Lady Bird Johnson Center yesterday. I was impressed with the spine less prickly pear cactus. Is it a native or a hybrid?
view the full question and answer

Scale on Agave attenuata from Melbourne, Australia
January 27, 2011 - I have an agave attenuata in a pot. It has been attacked by scales. I have been spraying it every 3-4 days at night with a chemical sold to me by the local gardening store. It's not helping and I am...
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