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

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

Identification of possible wild plums thickets
May 19, 2008 - I have several "thickets" of small shrub/bushes on my land that I hunt on. These small trees are usually 5-7 feet tall, always grow in thickets of ten to up to sixty or so bushes. They are always lo...
view the full question and answer

Identity of red raspberry-like berries in Connecticut
July 28, 2008 - I found some edible berries today in the woods that look like raspberries, are red like raspberries, but don't taste like them at all. They're very shiny red, remove easily from the bush. The flavor...
view the full question and answer

Mystery berries on vine in Montgomery County, TX
August 09, 2013 - While out in the woods today on Caney Creek near Grangerland, Texas, I found what I thought to be some grapes on a vine hanging down from a tree. I brought the vine down, but when I got it home to pr...
view the full question and answer

Plant ID from Villa Hills KY
April 21, 2013 - Hello I have this plant but I don't know what it is. I want to know if it's edible or what it is. I think it's catnip.
view the full question and answer

Identification of an Australian tree.
November 29, 2007 - i have a tree i cant seem to find any info on, the tree has large almost heart shaped leaves with pinkish veins running through them, its not shiney anywhere, sort of a mat finish,the edges of the lea...
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
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center