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
4 ratings

Thursday - October 03, 2013

From: Cosby, TN
Region: Southeast
Topic: Plant Identification, Shrubs
Title: Plant identification of thorny shrub in Tennessee
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I have a mid to dark green thorny type bush growing on my land in Cosby, Tennessee. I am originaly from NJ and I have never seen it before. The stalk is varigated and the thorns are plentiful and very large. Thank you in advance for your help.

ANSWER:

This sound a bit like Poncirus trifoliata (Trifoliate orange), an Asian native that is considered invasive.  It does have formidable long thorns on it.

There are several hawthorns that are native to Tennessee.  Here are four of them:

Crataegus flava (Summer hawthorn)  Here are photos and more information from Plants for a Future.

Crataegus phaenopyrum (Washington hawthorn)

Crataegus spathulata (Littlehip hawthorn)

Crataegus crus-galli (Cockspur hawthorn)

Here is a list of all 39 of the Crataegus species on our database.  You can use the NARROW YOUR SEARCH option to see the 14 that grow in Tennessee.

Ribes cynosbati (Eastern prickly gooseberry)

Smilax rotundifolia (Roundleaf greenbrier)  Here are photos from Vanderbilt University.

Smilax tamnoides (Bristly greenbrier)  Here are photos from DiscoverLife.org.

Zanthoxylum americanum (Common pricklyash)  Here are more photos from Iowa State University.

Aralia spinosa (Devil's walkingstick)

Maclura pomifera (Osage orange)

There are several species of roses (Rosa sp.) and blackberrie/raspberries (Rubus sp.)

If none of these appears to be the thorny shrub that you have seen, please visit our Plant Identification page to find links to plant identification forums that will accept photos of plants for identification.

 

From the Image Gallery


Washington hawthorn
Crataegus phaenopyrum

Littlehip hawthorn
Crataegus spathulata

Eastern prickly gooseberry
Ribes cynosbati

Common pricklyash
Zanthoxylum americanum

Devil's walking stick
Aralia spinosa

Cockspur hawthorn
Crataegus crus-galli

Osage orange
Maclura pomifera

More Shrubs Questions

Sumac Leaves Turning Red
November 22, 2013 - Hi, Mr. Smarty Plants, I recently planted a flowering sumac bush. Is it normal for that plant to get fall leaf-color? About a week after planting it, the temp reached the mid-30s, and after that, I ...
view the full question and answer

Twenty year old Texas Mountain Laurel isn't blooming.
March 09, 2015 - I have 20-year-old Texas Mountain Laurel in a fairly poor, clay-type soil. It hasn't bloomed very well the last couple years. Can you recommend a fertilizer to improve the blooms?
view the full question and answer

Hardy plants for a narrow yard in Illinois
July 28, 2008 - I have an area in my yard that is approx 35 feet by 5 feet that is shaded on the east by a 4 ft fence and on the west by the house and above by trees. It slopes off to the neighbors yard (so doesn't ...
view the full question and answer

Non-native Indian Hawthorn not flowering in Fairfield, TX
March 17, 2012 - My indian hawthorn shrubs won't flower, they are the white variety and I live in Freestone County, Texas, greenery is beautiful and very healthy plants but no flowers Have had the plants for over tw...
view the full question and answer

Hanging Baskets for Batson, TX
May 23, 2014 - What plants can I put in hanging baskets for my shady porch?
view the full question and answer

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