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
3 ratings

Wednesday - October 16, 2013

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Privacy Screening
Title: Thorny plants for a security perimeter in Austin TX
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Hello, I am trying to establish a security perimeter around my property that incorporates thorny or otherwise deterrent shrubs and vines. Can you recommend some attractive native plants that would suit this purpose? Flowering would be a plus, but not a priority. I am in West Oak Hill in Austin, TX. Thank you!

ANSWER:

Here are some thorny plants that grow in Travis County that would make an unpleasant barrier to cross:

Mahonia trifoliolata (Agarita) is an evergreen shrub with very prickly leaves.   It has small fragrant yellow flowers in the spring that produce edible red berries.

Acacia farnesiana (Huisache) has yellow flowers and lots of small thorns.  Its common name, huisache, is derived from Nahuatl and means many thorns.

Mimosa aculeaticarpa var. biuncifera (Catclaw mimosa) has recurved prickles along its branches and showy pink flowers.

Zanthoxylum hirsutum (Texas hercules' club) has prickles on its branches very much like a rose bush.

Zanthoxylum clava-herculis (Hercules' club) also has very spiny branches.

Sideroxylon lanuginosum (Gum bumelia) has sharp thorns along it branches.  Here are photos from the Image Archive of Central Texas Plants that show the thorns.

Smilax bona-nox (Saw greenbrier) is a vine that forms thick tangles and has sharp, stout prickles that discourage movement through them.

You might mix these shrubs and vines to make an attractive, but formidable, barrier.  Most of these do have attractive flowers and many are fragrant.

 

From the Image Gallery


Agarita
Mahonia trifoliolata

Catclaw mimosa
Mimosa aculeaticarpa var. biuncifera

Huisache
Vachellia farnesiana

Texas hercules' club
Zanthoxylum hirsutum

Hercules club
Zanthoxylum clava-herculis

Gum bumelia
Sideroxylon lanuginosum

Saw greenbrier
Smilax bona-nox

More Privacy Screening Questions

Native evergreens for privacy in Crockett, TX
October 12, 2008 - I need advice on what tall evergreens I can plant along a fence line for privacy. I need trees that will be at minimum 8 to 10 feet tall at maturity, are aesthetically pleasing and provide privacy. ...
view the full question and answer

Native evergreen vine for St. Paul MN
June 17, 2010 - I am looking for a native vine that will stay green, or at least keep its leaves, throughout the winter. The vine will be grown on a trellis between our house and our neighbor's, and we want to keep...
view the full question and answer

Replacement for Amber Jubilee Ninebark in California
November 22, 2014 - AMBER JUBILEE bush separating my neighbor and me, is spreading its roots into our water pipes. Want to rip out. What plants are root friendly and also give you privacy?
view the full question and answer

Evergreen tree for California screen
September 28, 2010 - Dear Mr. Smarty Pants, I need a tree for screen and privacy. Our neighbors are building a second story. We will loose our privacy and our patio will be like a fish bowl. I will plant it about 2 fee...
view the full question and answer

Alternate native plants for bamboo as a privacy screen in Austin, TX.
July 26, 2011 - Can you recommend a bamboo that I can plant, acting as a privacy screen, reaching at least 10'-12'? We are looking for a bamboo that does not spread, and can take the afternoon sun. It will be pla...
view the full question and answer

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