En Español

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
Acacia farnesiana

Texas hercules' club
Zanthoxylum hirsutum

Hercules club
Zanthoxylum clava-herculis

Gum bumelia
Sideroxylon lanuginosum

Saw greenbrier
Smilax bona-nox

More Privacy Screening Questions

Tall native grasses for privacy in Central Texas
June 29, 2013 - Hi- I am looking for a grass that will grow tall and be thick for privacy. I live here in Austin east of 35. Obviously something draught tolerant would be great! Thank you!
view the full question and answer

Living fence line from Thomasville GA
November 04, 2012 - I would like to create a natural fence line on my property in South Georgia. They need to be pretty dense and horse, cow, goat friendly, growing to a height of about 4ft, preferably quickly! Do you ...
view the full question and answer

Evergreen pet-safe shrubs for house and screening in McKinney TX
April 15, 2010 - Looking for shrub, preferably evergreen, to plant near the house that can handle wet ground and is pet (dog, cat, horse) safe. The area became boggy after we had an underground water leak that is now ...
view the full question and answer

Privacy screen for New York apartment balcony.
August 17, 2009 - Hello, I live in an apartment in New York City with an outdoor large balcony. I would like to buy evergreens to make the space more private. Do you have any suggestions on what type of plant woul...
view the full question and answer

Dog-safe Privacy Screen for Ocala, FL
June 25, 2015 - Am desperately searching for fast growing privacy that would be non toxic to dogs in Ocala, Florida (zone 9 I think). Wanted Leland cypress but due to toxicity it won't work.
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center