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
Not Yet Rated

Tuesday - February 05, 2013

From: Sugar Land, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Privacy Screening, Cacti and Succulents, Shrubs, Trees
Title: Thorny shrub for deterring break-ins in southeast Texas
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Looking for a very, very, thorny three or four foot tall shrub for in front of windows to deter break-ins. Considering Rosa Rugosa rose but it is not native.

ANSWER:

Unfortunately, there aren't any roses native to your part of Texas, but I can offer a few prickly shrubs, trees and cactus bushes that are native to Fort Bend County or adjacent counties.

SHRUBS:

Erythrina herbacea (Coralbean) grows to 6 feet but usually dies back in winter (depending on the winter low temperature).  It's long branches are very thorny and would certainly discourage anyone trying to get past them.  It has beautiful red flowers in the spring.  Here are more photos and information from Aggie Horticulture, the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Texas and from the Florida Native Plant Society.

Ilex opaca (American holly) is evergreen and has very prickly leaves.  It is a slow grower but can reach heights of over 30 feet.  There are, however, dwarf cultivars (e.g., Ilex opaca 'Maryland Dwarf') that grow to only 3 or 4 feet high. 

Acacia schaffneri var. bravoensis (Huisachillo) grows 4 to 12 feet tall with thorny branches.  Here are more photos and information from Texas A&M Agrilife Research and Extension Center at Uvalde.

 SMALL TREES:

Aralia spinosa (Devil's walkingstick) can grow to 12 or 15 feet all in one season and dies back in the winter.   It has very prickly stems and leaves.  It really is a small tree rather than a shrub.  Here are more photos and information from Duke University.

Acacia farnesiana (Huisache) is really a small tree growing to over 15 feet.   It is semi-evergreen and has straight spines on stems.  Here is more information from University of Arizona Pima County Cooperative Extension.

Crataegus texana (Texas hawthorn) can grow to a height of 20 feet but is armed with 1 to 3-inch thorns.   Here is more information from Aggie Horticulture.

CACTUS:

You might also consider cactus such as Cylindropuntia leptocaulis (Christmas cactus) or Opuntia engelmannii var. lindheimeri (Texas pricklypear).  Both can grow as high as 5 feet and are certainly armed with impressive spines.

 

From the Image Gallery


Coralbean
Erythrina herbacea

American holly
Ilex opaca

Huisachillo
Vachellia bravoensis

Devil's walking stick
Aralia spinosa

Huisache
Vachellia farnesiana

Texas hawthorn
Crataegus texana

Tasajillo
Cylindropuntia leptocaulis

Texas prickly pear
Opuntia engelmannii var. lindheimeri

More Shrubs Questions

Planting Suggestions for a Lake Home in Wayne County, MO
April 03, 2014 - We have a lake home in Wayne County, MO at Lake Wappapello. The soil is very rocky. We recently cleared an area around our home of assorted dead trees, some cedars and what seemed like tons of vines. ...
view the full question and answer

Need suggestions for plants for a bird/small wildlife refuge in Wichita Co, TX.
August 26, 2011 - With our continuing drought in North Texas, I'm planning to transform my small backyard into a bird/small wildlife "refuge". What types of native plants and grasses can I plant in dry, hot Wichita ...
view the full question and answer

Non-native red-tip photinias dying in San Antonio
August 20, 2009 - A 17 year old Red tip Photinia in a hedge shows signs of dying. The main stalks are quite large and offshoots from two of the stalks have brittle, drooping leaves. The center of the plant looks norm...
view the full question and answer

Care of Northern honeysuckle bush
April 26, 2009 - I have a honeysuckle bush, I have had it for about year to two years. I would like to know if I should cut the brown parts off. There are some vines that do not look good, but some of the branches ha...
view the full question and answer

White flowering mountain laurel from Driftwood TX
August 23, 2012 - I love white flowering mountain laurel (Sophora secundiflora) and want to grow one from seeds. I've had a lot of success germinating and growing purple mountain laurel from seeds (or beans), so I DO ...
view the full question and answer

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