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
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
Acacia schaffneri var. bravoensis

Devil's walkingstick
Aralia spinosa

Huisache
Acacia farnesiana

Texas hawthorn
Crataegus texana

Tasajillo
Cylindropuntia leptocaulis

Texas prickly pear
Opuntia engelmannii var. lindheimeri

More Trees Questions

Can I grow Pawpaw in Central Texas?
May 25, 2010 - Do you have any tips for growing pawpaws (not papaya) in central texas? It appears to be at the edge or slightly beyond its range, but maybe if I'm nice to it.. Thanks
view the full question and answer

Oak Bark Loss in Arlington, TX
May 04, 2013 - I have multiple oak trees in my yard (in north texas) that have begun to lose their bark in small chunks. I'm in the middle of the city so their are no deer and yes it's been a dry 2 years but this...
view the full question and answer

Killing regrowing shoots of a downed hackberry tree
June 28, 2013 - Hackberry plants won't die. You and others have suggested to cut the suckers or saplings to get rid of them. Over the years I have continued to cut the same saplings and the only thing I have now ar...
view the full question and answer

Need a Replacement for Chinese Tallow tree in Austin, TX
November 26, 2014 - I live in Austin and have a large Chinese Tallow in my front yard. I would like to cut the tree down, but it provides shade to my home. I was hoping to start growing a native fruit/nut tree near the C...
view the full question and answer

Privacy Screen Tree for Patio in NC
April 15, 2013 - What is a good tree to plant in front of a brick wall/fence to provide privacy and not compromise the structural integrity of the wall? The brick fence is my neighbors but I need privacy as they can s...
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