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

Plant identification
June 25, 2008 - Identification of woodland plant in a rual area ? we have bears britches and another plant simaler, but the leaves are flat and smooth, each leaf is on a seperate stalk and each plant has 3 stalk...
view the full question and answer

Plant Identification in Montfort WI
June 15, 2010 - There is a small orange flower plant that grows wild along highways and in uncut yards in northwest Wisconsin--We are visiting in Siren, WI and have tried to dig some up and take home to SW WI. They d...
view the full question and answer

Plant identification
September 30, 2010 - My husband brought home a plant which I have not been able to id. It is a bush, has 2 ovate to ellipse leaves, whorled, with 4 (2 pairs) smooth thin skinned (you can see white veins under the skin rad...
view the full question and answer

Mystery perennial in Clearfield, PA
July 07, 2009 - I have a perennial growing in my flower garden. I didn't plant extra seeds and don't know what it is..it has palm like leaves and long thin stem. It grows tall, maybe about 10 inches from the ground...
view the full question and answer

Houseplant identification.
February 03, 2011 - Please help me identify a houseplant that flowers a yellow flower at the base of plant. Its leaves are narrow, pointed and green on the topside and burgundy with small hairs on the underside of the l...
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