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
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

20 years to bloom
May 02, 2007 - My girlfriend and i have come up with an interesting question, we were wondering if there is a plant in existance that takes over 20 years to bloom, and how many different kinds (if any) there are? We...
view the full question and answer

Century Plant woes
May 04, 2016 - My century plant was fine two weeks ago. Tonight I seen this. Not sure what is happening. It 9 years old. IMG_4716.JPG
view the full question and answer

Pollinator to Arkansas yucca from Arlington TX
May 15, 2012 - Thank you Barbara for your answer. However, my Arkansas yuccas bloom every year, but do not set seed. I am asking for the name of the moth that pollinates them, or other native plants that serve as ...
view the full question and answer

Unidentified stalk, possibly manfreda, from San Marcos TX
May 23, 2014 - I had a very weird stalk pop up in my yard in San Marcos TX this month (May 2014) It bloomed very quickly and appears to be a manfreda but there is no rosette, or leaves of any kind - just the thick o...
view the full question and answer

Cutting bloom stalk of century plant in San Diego CA
June 25, 2010 - My 28 yr old century plant will bloom soon. I understand it will die. Will this 30 ft stalk then likely fall? Will I need to call someone to cut the dead stalk? The base is nearly 7 ft by 6ft - n...
view the full question and answer

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