Explore Plants

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
    
 

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

More Plant Identification Questions

Plant identification
August 31, 2009 - I need to identify a plant with broad leaves from a central base, no stalk, it also has a large inverted pinecone shaped central pod purplish in color. It is in heavy shade. Approx 2 ft high. Thank yo...
view the full question and answer

Lookink for bulbs of German Blue Bells in Weatherford, TX.
July 09, 2012 - I am searching for a plant that is called "German Blue Bells". They are tubular as seed. Like tiny iris only bands around the tubular. The flower looks like a morning glory with an off set bloom....
view the full question and answer

Plant identification
July 15, 2010 - I bought a double knock-out rose bush and planted it in my yard. A year later a weed-like plant started growing beside it. It has very thorny leaves, stems and stalk. Little purple flowers are grow...
view the full question and answer

Invasive spreading weed in Michigan that looks like a small pine tree
July 29, 2013 - I have an invasive spreading weed in my gardens. It has black root system, comes up looking like a small pine tree. The green breaks off when you try to pull it.
view the full question and answer

Identification of willow-like tree
April 22, 2012 - Hi. My daughter is trying to identify a native tree that is like a "scrub" tree here in pastures in Austin, Texas (for a school project). It sort of looks like weeping willow, but most aren't very ...
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.