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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.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Saturday - June 12, 2010

From: Stockbridge , MI
Region: Midwest
Topic: Shrubs
Title: Thorny shrub to use as a barrier in Michigan
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

What shrub/bush/tree would you recommend that grows fast, very thorny to act as a very strong deterrent/barrier that gets at least 4' tall? It would be in an open yet removed area from foot traffic in full sun in good dirt, not clay or sand. Can grow at will, so trimming and space are non-issues. Flowering would be a nice benefit.

ANSWER:

The following native Michigan shrubs are armed with spines or thorns:

Crataegus phaenopyrum (Washington hawthorn) has a rapid growth rate when young, but slows as it ages, according to the US Forest Service.

Zanthoxylum americanum (common pricklyash) is fast-growing. Here is more information and a photo.

Shepherdia argentea (silver buffaloberry) has a rapid growth rate.

Rosa carolina (Carolina rose) has a moderate growth rate.

Rosa palustris (swamp rose) has a moderate growth rate.

Rubus idaeus ssp. strigosus (grayleaf red raspberry) has a moderate growth rate.

Also, nearly all species of Rubus (blackberries, raspberries, dewberries, etc.) with the exception of the thimbleberries (Rubus odoratus (purpleflowering raspberry) and Rubus parviflorus (thimbleberry)) have thorns.  To see the other ones that are native to Michigan, use the NARROW YOUR SEARCH option and select Michigan from the SELECT STATE OR PROVINCE category on the Rubus sp. page.

Here are photos from our Image Gallery:


Crataegus phaenopyrum

Shepherdia argentea

Rosa carolina

Rosa palustris

Rubus idaeus ssp. strigosus

 

 

 

 

 

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