Host an Event Volunteer Join Tickets

Support the plant database you love!

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
2 ratings

Saturday - June 12, 2010

From: Stockbridge , MI
Region: Midwest
Topic: Shrubs
Title: Thorny shrub to use as a barrier in Michigan
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

What shrub/bush/tree would you recommend that grows fast, very thorny to act as a very strong deterrent/barrier that gets at least 4' tall? It would be in an open yet removed area from foot traffic in full sun in good dirt, not clay or sand. Can grow at will, so trimming and space are non-issues. Flowering would be a nice benefit.

ANSWER:

The following native Michigan shrubs are armed with spines or thorns:

Crataegus phaenopyrum (Washington hawthorn) has a rapid growth rate when young, but slows as it ages, according to the US Forest Service.

Zanthoxylum americanum (common pricklyash) is fast-growing. Here is more information and a photo.

Shepherdia argentea (silver buffaloberry) has a rapid growth rate.

Rosa carolina (Carolina rose) has a moderate growth rate.

Rosa palustris (swamp rose) has a moderate growth rate.

Rubus idaeus ssp. strigosus (grayleaf red raspberry) has a moderate growth rate.

Also, nearly all species of Rubus (blackberries, raspberries, dewberries, etc.) with the exception of the thimbleberries (Rubus odoratus (purpleflowering raspberry) and Rubus parviflorus (thimbleberry)) have thorns.  To see the other ones that are native to Michigan, use the NARROW YOUR SEARCH option and select Michigan from the SELECT STATE OR PROVINCE category on the Rubus sp. page.

Here are photos from our Image Gallery:


Crataegus phaenopyrum

Shepherdia argentea

Rosa carolina

Rosa palustris

Rubus idaeus ssp. strigosus

 

 

 

 

 

More Shrubs Questions

Non-native ligustrum in non-native fescue in Medina TX
May 22, 2013 - Is there an effective way to kill baby ligustrums coming up in my fescue yard without harming the grass?
view the full question and answer

Something damages leaves on Tecoma stans from Austin
November 08, 2013 - Help! Something is chomping my Esperanzas. I thought it was deer but they don't seem to be eating other yellow bells in my neighborhood. I think it's an insect. Something is completely stripping the...
view the full question and answer

Evergreen shrub for Austin TX
February 28, 2015 - I am wanting an evergreen shrub 6-8 ft tall to use as a screen in our backyard. Do you have any suggestions?
view the full question and answer

Need suggestions for a small tree for cemetery in NH.
August 30, 2012 - I would like suggestions for picking a SMALL tree for a rural cemetery in Winchester, NEW HAMPSHIRE. Would the delicate Japanese Elm be suitable for the weather, etc?
view the full question and answer

Rejuvenating an old Wax myrtle hedge
February 15, 2016 - I have 8 wax myrtles that were planted about 9 years ago as a screen from our neighbors. They are about 12 feet high. During the past 9 months they are getting thinner and thinner. Two of them hav...
view the full question and answer

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