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

Monday - September 23, 2013

From: Spicewood, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Plant Identification
Title: New thorn/bush tree in Central Texas
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

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 like a bush but will grow 20 or more feet high. The color of the tree is almost a blue green.

ANSWER:

My best guess from your description is Zanthoxylum hirsutum (Texas hercules' club).  Here are photos and more information from Archive of Central Texas Plants from the School of Biological Sciences, University of Texas.  Crushed leaves give off an odor that smells like oranges or other citrus fruits.  If you chew one of the leaves (the young leaves, in particular), you will notice that your tongue begins to feel numb.  Native Americans used the leaves to treat toothache; thus, its common names of Tickle-tongue and Toothache tree.

Other possibilities are:

Ziziphus obtusifolia (Lotebush)  Here are photos and more information from Texas A&M Horticulture and Virginia Tech University.

Castela erecta (Goatbush)  Here is a description from the US Forest Service and here are photos and more information from Texas A&M Horticulture and photos from Flora of Dolan Falls Preserve in Val Verde County, Texas.

Sideroxylon lanuginosum (Gum bumelia)  Here are photos and more information from the Archive of Central Texas Plants from the School of Biological Sciences, University of Texas.

 

From the Image Gallery


Texas hercules' club
Zanthoxylum hirsutum

Lotebush
Ziziphus obtusifolia

Gum bumelia
Sideroxylon lanuginosum

More Plant Identification Questions

Plant Identification
November 15, 2008 - Hi, I live in ne pa.i have always had a fasvorite wild flower with yellow flowers in the spring. the plant lasts all summer and fall til first frost. It gets small thin bean like seed pods that I save...
view the full question and answer

Plant identification
July 07, 2010 - This should be an easy one. I would like to identify a plant that grows along river banks, usually up to the edge of the water and within 50' of water course, and is very common. It is up to 8' in ...
view the full question and answer

Plant identification of purple flower in Washington state
July 19, 2013 - I need help. I am a 10 year old girl who just happens to have a brother. He has a deep purple flower with small, oval shaped petals. We would like to know what it is. We planted it in a garden thing a...
view the full question and answer

Plant Identification
June 05, 2012 - I have a plant that looks like a lamb ear leaf but with a carnation flower on top. What is it?
view the full question and answer

Observation of Kalmia angustifolia in George Washington National Forest in Virginia
March 19, 2015 - On Feb. 7th, 2015 I observed a variety Kalmia on the crest of a ridge, recently burned off, in the George Washington National Forest. I think it may be sheep laurel (Kalmia angustiflora), which coloni...
view the full question and answer

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