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

Monday - May 09, 2011

From: Pensacola, FL
Region: Southeast
Topic: Plant Identification
Title: Mystery small tree with many large thorns
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

In a small spot on over 2 acres, we have this strange tree/shrub. It is a single, straight stem with no branches, and has profuse, large thorns from top to bottom. At the top of the stem, the leaves grow out in the shape of an umbrella. In the winter, it looks like a brown, dead stick. In the spring/summer, new growth is green with the leaves at the top. Some are 15 feet tall or taller.

ANSWER:

This sounds a lot like Aralia spinosa (Devil's walkingstick).  It certainly qualifies in its very thorny straight stem with the new spring leaves occurring at the top of the stem looking umbrella-like.  Here are some more photos from Duke University and information from Floridata.


Aralia spinosa


Aralia spinosa


Aralia spinosa

 

 

More Plant Identification Questions

Plant identification
August 04, 2012 - We found a bush on our ranch in southern Gonzales County. It has oval shaped leaves about an inch long. There are no thorns on the branches. Fruit is round and smooth, the size of a small cherry to...
view the full question and answer

Plant identifcation and wants to know about weeds
September 30, 2007 - My son planted some seeds in pots before he left and I don't know if I am watering weeds/plants??? One plant has green & red (lateral) striped stalks with something on the end that to me from Texas ...
view the full question and answer

Plant identification
November 04, 2010 - I am trying to figure out what this plant is..It has light feathery leaves like dill. It is an annual in the midwest. Height 5-6 feet tall. Stalk is about 3 inches wide with branches that are 2 feet l...
view the full question and answer

Identification of stinging plant in Central Texas
July 02, 2012 - I live on 15 acres on Nameless Road. When walking on property, occasionally my leg/ankle brushes against some plant that "stings" me. Like little needles in my skin. Doesn't last long, but becau...
view the full question and answer

Plant identification
July 01, 2013 - I picked a beautiful large red wildflower, & by the time I got home, the stem had turned "spikey" and dark black! Very ugly & a little scary as I had never heard of such a flower! Can you identify??
view the full question and answer

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