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
2 ratings

Tuesday - September 15, 2009

From: Hutto, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Plant Identification
Title: Plant identification of Texas bullnettle (Cnidoscolus texanus)
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I'm trying to identify a small thorny plant that I found growing on our (previously undeveloped) dry lot in Hutto, Central Texas. It has small white flowers and green thorny bulbs. The leaves and stems are also thorny. It gave my foot an allergic reaction and I'd like to know the best way to keep it from coming back into my yard. The soil was previously very dry (throughout the worst drought in Central Texas history) and these plants popped up. Then after the rain in the past week, they grew very quickly. Hutto soil is generally black clay but our lot has very shallow soil on top of a rock shelf. Thank you.

ANSWER:

The plant you describe (and thank you for the photos you sent) is Cnidoscolus texanus (Texas bullnettle).  The spines on them can provide quite a sting. 

If you were extremely careful, wearing protective clothing and heavy gloves, you could probably dig the plants up.  The Bandera County Courier also has some information on controlling it.  There are likely to be more, though, growing from seeds deposited there by wildlife.  The seeds, once you get to them, are quite tasty for wildlife and humans as well.  Delena Tull (page 76) of Edible and Useful Plants of Texas and the Southwest explains how to get into the delicious fruit.  


Cnidoscolus texanus

Cnidoscolus texanus

Cnidoscolus texanus

Cnidoscolus texanus

 

 

More Plant Identification Questions

Books on Lilies
August 27, 2006 - Dear Sir, I am looking for a book covering the Lily Family as a whole, i.e., it should preferably also discuss other Genera than Lilium only. I am especially interested in Lily members occurring in t...
view the full question and answer

Plant identfication
August 09, 2009 - We have red pointed things growing wild in our yard. About the size of an index finger. They just pop up after a rain. Are they poisonous? We have pets.
view the full question and answer

New thorn/bush tree in Central Texas
September 23, 2013 - In Central Texas, over the last 5 years we have seen a new variety of thorn bush appear. It has very long thorns much like mesquite tree but thorns are every inch or so along the branches. The tree is...
view the full question and answer

Identity of bulbs from digging in an anthole
June 13, 2012 - I was digging in an ant hole and it collapsed and as I dug it out, I found around 50 white bulbs that did not have a smell or roots. They resembled onion bulbs. I have a picture of these and they are...
view the full question and answer

Identification of shrub with red berries in Tennessee
January 24, 2014 - Hello, I've got a shrub in my backyard; it has leaves off in groups of 3 and it has multiple reddish berries in groups by the dozens. I'm not sure what plant it is. The shrub is stick-like and appr...
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 | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center