Plants With Blades: Using Plants That Have Sharp Edges In The Garden
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By: Tonya Barnett, (Author of FRESHCUTKY)
When it comes to planning and to planting the homelandscape, there are many factors to consider. Size, shape, and growingrequirements are all vastly important when considering which plants to choosefor your home. Special consideration of plant texture or leaf features is oneof many aspects that often go overlooked by homeowners. Choosing plants withunique and interesting leaves can add new dimension to yard spaces. Onespecific type, plants with sharp leaves, can add a unique design aesthetic tothe landscape. However, these plants may also be dangerous to gardeners.
Gardening with Sharp Leaved Plants
When it comes to plants that have sharp edges, manygardeners may immediately think of plants like succulentsand cacti.Though these plants are better suited to drier regions, they can thrive in mostplaces, as long as the proper growing conditions are provided. If these plantsare not ideal for your yard, however, many other sharp leaved plants areavailable in the form of palmsand ornamental grasses.
In the wild, plants with sharp leaves have evolved toprotect themselves from predators or from the harsh environments in which theylive. Planting these same plants with blades into the garden can cause quitethe predicament when not done with care and attention to detail.
While plants that have sharp edges, like pampas grass, canlooking absolutely stunning in the landscape, they can also be quite dangerouswhen placed in high traffic areas or in spaces that need frequent maintenance.
In many cases, plants that have sharp edges can easilyinjure gardeners or their guests when planted in less than ideal locations.Sharp plants, such as the yucca, have the potential to seriously injure thosewho come into contact with its leaves. For this reason, it is imperative thatthose wishing to incorporate plants with sharp edges in their garden takeresponsibility for keeping themselves and their visitors safe.
Common Plants with Sharp Leaves
Though many of these plants can be quite stunning,maintaining safety in the garden should always be the first priority. Here aresome of the most commonly added sharp leaves plants you’ll find in landscapes:
- Aloe vera
- Pampas grass
- Prickly pear cactus
- Saw palmetto
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Read more about General Foliage Care
Introduction to Cycads, the ultimate Jurassic landscape and/or potted plants
This is a brief article about one of the most prehistoric of all landscape plants for warmer climates. These can also be grown successfully in pots in cooler climates for those who want a little dinosaur-age foliage in their greenhouse or summer patio. There are few better plants for investment value as well- cycads will only go up in value with age and size. And, thankfully, beauty also increases with value as well.
(Editor's Note: This article was originally published on March 18, 2007. Your comments are welcome, but please be aware that authors of previously published articles may not be able to respond to your questions.)
What is a cycad?
The most common cycad, and the one most people have heard of, is the Sago Palm. Cycas revoluta is NOT a palm despite what its common name suggests, but is a classic cycad, with it’s palm-like trunk and simple, pinnate leaves. Cycads are non-flowering plants that are actually more closely related to conifers than to palms or any other flowering plants. They reproduce by making cones and seeds. All cycads are dioecious, which means they are either male or female, and never both.
Cycas revoluta, or the 'Sago Palm'
As mentioned above, cycads are typically ‘palm-shaped’: symmetrical plants with fronds arising from the tops of their stems (also called a caudex, trunk or base), similar to how palms or many ferns grow. The frond, or leaf, is made up of a petiole, which arises from the stem and has no leaflets on it, a rachis, which is what the petiole is called further from the stem where the leaflets come off either side (like a palm or fern leaf) and, of course, the leaflets themselves, which are the ‘leaf-shaped’ parts that come off either side of the rachis (with remarkable regularity in cycads). A petiole or rachis is unbranched in all but a few cycads- they have simple pinnate (‘feather-shaped’) leaves. These leaves/fronds are typically somewhat ‘plastic’ or leathery in consistency, which is one of the characteristics that makes cycads unique. These leaves come in various shades of green to blue-green and some are even a pale blue. Some have smooth, simple, spineless leaflets, while some are known for their incredibly sharp, multispined, twisted leaflets. Some cycads can be quite hazardous to handle for this reason.
Encephalartos ferox, horridus and latifrons leaves showing dangerously sharp ends (second photo by tfromky)
Initially a cycad starts as a germinated seed, with one leaf. Then, as it ages, it will grow another leaf every so often… for most species, this is an agonizingly slow process, with many species only making one leaf a year for a while. Eventually, however, two leaves will come up at a time, and finally new leaves will come out all once in larger and larger numbers called a ‘flush’. Some cycads, such as Macrozamias, however, continue to grow one leaf at a time, with just the interval between leaves getting shorter with age.
Dioon spinulosum on left showing typical flush of leaves for most cycad species (many leaves simultaneously) while Macrozamia moorei on right contiuously puts out a leaf at a time
As a cycad ages, it gets taller from the top of the stem. As is also the case with palms or tree ferns, once a cycad has matured to a certain thickness, it will not get any thicker with age, and all growth is directed either up, or into new suckers/pups that arise from ether the root stock, or along the caudex itself. All the energy of the plant is in this caudex (and sometimes the roots), so this is the business part of the plant. Cycads are basically caudiciform succulents. Leaves, and sometimes roots, are expendable. Cutting all the leaves off a cycad rarely affects it in a negative way. But damage the caudex and the plant is often lost.
Adult cycads vary in size and shape depending on the species, with some growing to over 60’ tall, others developing numerous branches and take up many yards in all directions, to very small, even subterranean plants that would get lost in all but the smallest landscape areas or pots.
The Macrozamia polymorpha on the left has a subterranean caudex (lifted up a bit in this pot for effect) while the Cycas circinalis on the right is about 25' tall
Cycads have various root types- some have huge, succulent roots- these varieties usually live in very arid climates. In many of these plants, the caudex itself is also underground and only the leaves are visible except in very old plants. Most cycads have one large carrot-like root, and smaller, more ‘normal’ roots. In all but itty bitty seedlings, most of the ancillary roots can be removed, and if not placed in too-moist or poorly draining soils, the roots will heal over and new roots will usually develop (this is less of a reliable outcome than with the removing of leaves, and is not recommended unless there is some need to do so). Damaging the large, carrot-like root badly, however, is often fatal unless great care is taken to heal the wound and get the plant to reroot in a special medium (eg. pumice). Getting cycads to reroot, or rooting the cuttings/pups off adults, is somewhat of an art, and may require a greenhouse along with keeping the plant in pumice or perlite. Rerooting can take up to several years in some species. There is another kind of root that is somewhat unique to cycads- the collaroid roots, which exist just above or below the surface of established plants, and whose function is to help fix nitrogen via bacteria living in those roots. A cycad with a lot of these collaroid roots is usually a well established and ‘happy’ plant.
Where are cycads from?
Cycads live in nature all over the tropical world, from Central and South America, to Africa, Asia and Australia. A few Zamias are native the ‘tropical US’. No cycads are from colder areas of the world, though some Asian species do live in relatively cool environments. In many of their native lands, some species are extremely endangered and, in a few cases, already extinct. Collecting cycads from the wild is something that is not only frowned upon these days, but is usually unlawful and closely regulated. Saying that, it still happens, thanks to the huge amounts of money some of these plants go for, so probably many of the species that exist today will be extinct in the near future.
How does one take care of a cycad?
Not all cycads need the same care, but in general, most are NOT fond very cold climates, with only a few taking freezing temps at all. One of the reasons Sago Palms are such popular cycads is they tolerate a moderate degree of frost/ freezing climates, but even these have their limits. Cycads are succulents basically and many can be grown similarly to how one grows most succulents. Most tolerate some dryness and appreciate being grown in very well draining soil- most do not tolerate being grown in clay or other poorly draining soils. Of all the genera, Encephalartos species are the easiest to rot from over watering. In general, Ceratozamia, Zamia, Lepidozamia, Cycas and Bowenia are more difficult to over water. Some Macrozamias are water hogs, while most are not and will rot with excessive water. If in a warm climate with the proper soil, most cycads prefer to be watered regularly, and though many are drought tolerant, they tend to perform much better and grow faster if given water often and fertilized regularly as well. Some of the more tropical, rainforest species do NOT tolerate drought conditions, and letting them dry out too long can kill them. Plants grown in pots obviously need to be watered regularly as well, but probably need fertilizing less often than those in the ground.
Planting or transplanting cycads is relatively easy. Root damage will usually occur, as cycad roots are not that sturdy. However, care should be taken not to damage the main, carrot-like root(s) too badly, as injury to this root will allow fungal infections to develop, and sometimes overtake the plant. Still, if this root is badly damaged, often the plant will survive, but will need to be kept dry (do not replant immediately) until the injury ‘cures’ over. Rooting hormone and/or antifungal powders/creams on these injuries can be beneficial. It is best not to water a cycad after transplanting it, as that will also allow fungus and opportunity to invade. Best to wait a week or so (less for very small plants of course) to allow root damage to heal and roots to be able to uptake water again.
Recently dug up Cycas taitungensis, ready to be planted
Most cycads like sun, though some species/genera are not that tolerant of full sun in very hot climates. But lack of any sunlight is usually a problem for cycad health, and most species will not do well as indoor plants. Some require full sun or will struggle and decline. If grown in too much sun, most species will survive, but not look good, with their leaves burning and being stunted. See below for the sun requirement generalizations for each genus.
Cycads need to be trimmed as the older, senescent leaves die. This can be hazardous if you have a spiny species, so use gloves as/if needed. If for some reason the leaves are damaged, but not dead, they still can be cut off without damage to the plant itself. If you trim a living leaf, which is OK if need be, a clearish ‘goo’ may ooze from the cut end. This is the cycads way of curing itself- sort of like a built in liquid bandage system. Seeing this ooze arise from the caudex is not usually a good sign- it indicates there is some damage of the caudex at that site, or deeper within (trauma, insect damage etc.). But do not clean it off- most cycads can heal their wounds well. Just look for the inciting cause if possible.
Some cycads are prone to nutritional deficiencies- this Cycas sp. is suffering from a calcium deficiency
Insect damage is pretty rare on cycads in the US, though Cycas species have been defoliated and/or killed in some the more tropical states by scale. Cycads tend to handle being sprayed with pesticides fairly well. However, see some discussions in Davesgarden about treating scale on Cycas species as that is an exceptional situation.
One of the reasons cycads are such popular collector plants is they are slow growing. Most can live your entire life in a pot, though almost all will grow faster and better in the ground. Many species will make 1-3 leaf flushes a year… some less often, some more. But very little height is gained in a single new set of leaves, so overall height is a very slowly increasing situation. This makes all but the oldest, hugest plants manageable for the average collector to keep and maintain. With proper care many cycads can live for many hundreds of years… some very old plants in the wild may be thousands of years old. Dying of old age is something much more likely to happen to the grower than to the plant itself.
Vegetable Garden Pest Control
Even in the best-managed vegetable gardens--ones with soil rich in compost, and a diversity of plants to encourage natural predators--certain pests will occasionally get out of hand.
There is a nugget of truth in the old maxim that insects are most likely to gang up on plants that are already unhealthy because of a soil nutrient imbalance or drought. This is the case, for examply, with some aphid outbreaks. Unfortunately, the maxim doesn't come close to explaining all our pest problems.
For instance, vegetables are bred largely for yield and flavor, often at the expense of natural resistance to pests. Furthermore, all vegetables are tender and nutritious, and this fact is not lost on a wide array of insects. With cabbageworms, hornworms, bean beetles, and Colorado potato beetles, the better you've made the soil, the more they like your vegetables.
If these or similar insects are in your neighborhood and you are growing their favorite crops, you are almost certain to have a pest outbreak. Given these realities, what should you do? Most likely you'll consider using some kind of insecticide.
Here we summarize the latest experience and expert advice about the sprays and dusts used to control pests in vegetable gardens.
Integrated Pest Management
Vegetable garden pest control begins with basic good gardening common sense, such as choosing varieties that are resistant to pests in your region, preparing the soil well and providing regular irrigation.
It helps to have in your garden a diversity of plants and habitats. Water, even a very small pond, is attractive to many insects and other creatures. Likewise, an abundance of flowering, nectar-bearing plants will encourage and sustain parasitic and predatory insects.
The next step in a least-toxic pest control strategy is to employ barriers, such as row covers, to exclude pests altogether. Using a pesticide, any pesticide, is always the measure of last resort. You spray or dust late in the game, when the pest insect is clearly way out of control and an important crop is at risk.
When a pest first arrives, or when prior experience tells you it soon will, the best approach is to develop a strategy of control. Integrated pest management (IPM) is a pest problem-solving process that includes considerations such as pesticide resistance, natural biological controls and pollution, in addition to problems caused by the pest. IPM integrates many pest-control methods and minimizes insecticide use, particularly of the more toxic, broad-spectrum kinds.
When a problem does occur, it is essential to correctly identify the cause. The beetle you see near a hole in a leaf may be a predator. But if it is damaging your plants, simply pick it off. Also consider that doing nothing at all--letting nature take its course--is often the best approach. Always use simple, noninvasive remedies first.
Sensible Insecticides Used Responsibly
Sometimes pest problems are not adequately managed by natural, cultural or mechanical control methods. Insecticides are often the only control option that remains. The prime factors in determining pesticide safety are:
- How specific it is to particular insects?
- How toxic it is to humans and nontarget organisms?
- How quickly does it degrade.
Remember, in a vegetable garden it is virtually impossible to spray just the one thing you want to spray. Other crops (perhaps ready to pick) are always nearby, so you want to stay away from insecticides that don't break down quickly.
Choose an insecticide that is as specific to the pest at hand as possible and then use as little as possible. If only one spray will do the job, use only one spray. For the long-term health of your garden, the less spray you use, the better.
Remember, too, that just because an insecticide has a botanical origin or is considered acceptable to organic gardeners, it still contains a toxin and is not automatically safe for humans.
Vegetable Pest Remedies
Gardeners today have at their disposal a handful of effective and safe pesticides. When you have to spray to save your crop, here are the insecticides to consider using, with their characteristics, positive and negative.
Bt. The bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) was identified in 1911 by the biologist E. Berliner, who found it infecting pupae of the Mediterranean flour moth and other insect larvae living in grain warehouses in the German town of Thuringia. It wasn't until the 1960s, however, that entomologists learned how to make it into a powerful and very pest-specific insecticide.
Advantages of Bt include safety--it is essentially nontoxic to humans, other mammals and birds. The label specifies no waiting period between application and harvest. It is also highly selective so is easily incorporated with existing natural controls. A limitation of Bt is its slow action. After pests consume it, their feeding slows down. But their death won't occur for two to five days. Bt is also perishable. Most formulations are less effective after a few years of storage.
Bt exists naturally in most soils. Different strains of Bt occur that produce protein crystals toxic to certain insects. The strain for most caterpillars is B. t. kurstaki. Commercially prepared Bt spray or powder has no effect on adult butterflies or moths. Remember, however, that not all caterpillars are pests.
Strains of Bt have been developed for a few other pests. Some leaf-feeding beetles (including Colorado potato beetles) are susceptible to B. t. tenebrionis (also known as San Diego strain and M-1), for example. Because Bt is a near-perfect insecticide, there is danger of overuse. Any overused insecticide will gradually become less effective as insects evolve defenses to it. Some insect pests, such as the diamondback moth and Indian meal moth, were once susceptible and are now at least partially immune to Bt.
Bt is in the news because plant scientists have learned how to insert its genes into corn plants making the entire plant toxic to corn earworm. While Bt is favored and accepted by all organic gardeners, genetically engineering Bt toxins into other plants is not.
DE is available in two different forms. One form is used primarily in swimming pool filters. It is not an effective insecticide and is dangerous to inhale (it can cause a lung disease called silicosis). In your garden, use only the natural grade of DE. Still, it is wise to wear goggles and a dust mask during application.
Dust DE onto leaves and stems to control pests such as aphids, Colorado potato beetle, immature forms of squash bug, Mexican bean beetle or whitefly. Or spread it as a barrier to slugs and snails. It works best in dry situations. It is not selective and kills spiders and beneficials as well as pests. Don't overuse it.
Particle Film Dusts. Dusts are among the oldest types of insecticides, but the newest kinds are very carefully designed for maximum efficiency. Only one type is currently available to home gardeners, Surround At Home. It's made of an engineered kaolin clay. Applied with a pressurized sprayer, it coats plant leaves making them less familiar and less comfortable to pests. Since these are not insecticides, there is no danger of a pest developing resistance. And the kaolin, a common ingredient in medicines, is non toxic.
Horticultural Oils These are most often highly refined extracts of crude oil. (Some vegetable oils, such as cottonseed and soybean oil, are also sometimes used.) They are increasingly recommended for vegetable garden pest control because they present few risks to either gardeners or desirable species and integrate well with natural biological controls. Also, oils dissipate quickly through evaporation, leaving little residue.
Oils kill insects by plugging the pores through which they breathe. Oils can damage plants if applied at excessive rates or on particularly hot (above 100°F) or cold (below 40°F) days.
Spray oils in vegetable gardens to kill aphids, leafhoppers, spider mites and whiteflies. A few drops of oil in the ear tips of corn controls corn earworm.
Insecticidal Soaps These are specific fatty acids that have been found by experiment to be toxic to pests, primarily soft-bodied insects such as aphids, mealybugs, spider mites and whiteflies. Surprisingly, adult Japanese beetles are also susceptible. Most nontarget insects are unaffected, and toxicity to animals is nonexistent. Soap insecticides act fast and leave no residue. You can use them on vegetables up to the moment of harvest.
Advantages of soaps to home gardeners include safety to both the applicator and nontarget insects. They a selective, so are easily incorporated with other, natural biological controls. Some plants, such as peas, are readily burned by soaps, and their effectiveness is greatly reduced if mixed with hard water.
Don't use liquid dishwashing detergents or hand soaps. Though many will kill insects, they might hurt the plants, too. Some fatty acids are toxic to plants, the reason a soap-based weed killer is now available. Dish soap manufacturers change the oils used in their formulations regularly, based on cost and availability, so the brand that worked fine for your neighbor last year might severely stunt your Brussels sprouts this year.
According to EPA regulations, neem is exempt from food crop tolerances because it is considered nontoxic.
Neem works both as an insecticide and as an antifeedant. It kills insects in the juvenile stage by thwarting their development, and is most effective against aphids, thrips and whiteflies. There is no quick knockdown with neem, but a week or so after application, you'll notice a steady decline in the number of pests. It is not effective against adult insects (though it may interfere with egg production), and has little impact on beneficial insects.
As an antifeedant, neem is effective against Japanese beetles. Apply neem before the beetles appear and reapply after rainfall. Once beetle numbers build up on the plant, neem no longer discourages them.
Neem sprays degrade very quickly in water. Mix only the amount you need and apply all of it immediately. On the plant, neem retains its activity against juvenile insects pests for about one week.
Pyrethrins Derived from the painted daisy, Chrysanthemum cinerariifolium, pyrethrins are considered one of the most important natural insecticides. When you must use a broad-spectrum insecticide in the vegetable garden or lose the crop, they are one of the best choices. Of low toxicity to mammals, they kill insects quickly. In sunlight they break down and are nontoxic within a day or less. For best results, apply them in the late afternoon or evening. Use pyrethrins for the hard-to-kill pests such as beetles, squash bugs and tarnished plant bugs.
The terminology can be confusing. Pyrethrum, discovered around 1800 in the Transcaucasian region of Asia, is the ground-up flowers of the daisy. Pyrethrins (almost always plural) are the insecticidal components of the flowers. Pyrethroids, such as cypermethrin, permethrin and resmethrin, are synthetic compounds that resemble pyrethrins. They are more toxic and more persistent than pyrethrins, so are much more toxic to beneficials. Though increasingly popular in commercial agriculture, home gardeners should avoid them.
Often, pure pyrethrins only stun insects. This is why they are often combined with synergists like piperonyl butoxide, chemicals that enhance the effectiveness of the active ingredients, thus enabling formulations with less pyrethrin to kill insects.
Eight Vegetable Garden Insecticides
Here are the insecticides you are most likely to need in a vegetable garden. Note that many others are available and sometimes recommended, but these are the safest and most effective for most home gardeners.
The 11 Prickliest Plants on the Planet
Some of them are beautiful. All of them draw blood.
Plants have evolved all sorts of wickedly clever defense mechanisms, and the most primal—and effective—are thorns, prickles, and spines. Spiny plants can be a hassle for maintenance and pruning, but when it comes to your personal home security, these masters of pain handily defend property lines and first-floor windows.
As a bonus, most of the plants trick themselves out with delicate blossoms in spring and colorful berries in fall. They're tough and hardy across many growing zones, and those that are shrub-like can be pruned into impenetrable hedges. This helps keep any home from looking like a max security complex.
If you have kids or animals, these may not be the plants for you. But for many, it's a more elegant solution than an unsightly barbed wire fence.
When you think of holly, you're certain to conjure images of the plant's evergreen leaves and red fruit, but do you consider its thorns? Each of the leathery leaves has three to five spines along its sides. They alternate in direction, with some spines pointing upward, and some downward. Meanwhile, the highest branches of mature holly trees completely lack the sharp appendages.
These spines actually explain the plant's connection to Christmas. Originally, in pre-Christian times, pagans used the plants to ward off evil spirits and to celebrate the Winter Solstice Festival. Over time, Christians added their own meanings to them. The leaves are meant to represent the crown of thorns that Jesus wore during crucifixion, and the berries represent his blood. In Scandinavia, holly is even referred to as Christ Thorn.
Agave is a genus of plants that includes many species of succulents that live in hot and arid conditions. These plants have adapted to their desert homes with various features, including spikes. In this case, the spines poke out at predators to deter them from using the leaves as a water source. The spikes are so strong and sharp, in fact, that ancient women in Mexico were known to use them as needles for sewing.
Acacia trees are often associated with Australia, which makes sense—it takes a tough tree to survive in a tough land. But it's also native to Africa, and rumor has it that in Egypt the leaves were ground up and used to treat hemorrhoids.
But its the tree's limbs that hands out the most punishment. These barbarous branches are studded with curved prickles that excel at snagging and not letting go. However, there are other species of Acacia with a less thorny personality.
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Acacia trees are often associated with Australia, which makes sense—it takes a tough tree to survive in a tough land. But it's also native to Africa, and rumor has it that in Egypt, the leaves were ground up and used to treat hemorrhoids.
But its the tree's limbs that hand out the most punishment. These barbarous branches are studded with curved prickles that excel at snagging and not letting go. However, there are other species of Acacia with a less-thorny personality.
Think of this plant like no nonsense rose, with no showy flowers and all canes and prickles. They're incredibly fast-growers and can quickly grow into a twisted biomass of hurt 5-foot-high, and this wall of pain be as wide as you'd like. Because of their tendency to grow quickly , you'll need to be a diligent pruner, but hey, at least you get those berries.
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Think of this plant like a no-nonsense rose: all canes and prickles, and no showy flowers. They're incredibly fast-growers and can quickly turn into a twisted biomass of hurt. They grow about five feet high, and this wall of pain can be as wide as you'd like. Because of their tendency to grow quickly , you'll need to be a diligent pruner, but hey, at least you get those berries.
A fast-growing shrubby vine that can grow 40 feet long, Bougainvillea uses its thorny stems to support itself on nearby plants or structures. The colorful display is actually large, papery bracts that surround the tiny flowers, and you definitely don't want this plant's sap to touch your skin.
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A fast-growing shrubby vine that can grow 40 feet long, Bougainvillea uses its thorny stems to support itself on nearby plants or structures. The colorful display is actually made up of large, papery bracts that surround the tiny flowers, and you definitely don't want this plant's sap to touch your skin.
Although a great name for any death metal album, this climbing shrub grows 3 to 5 feet high and sends heavily armed branches in every direction. It usually needs support and looks for other plants or a fence to hold it up. Crimson summer flowers but a beautiful face in front of the insidious matrix of thorns beneath. Supposedly, A circle of Euphorbia was placed on Jesus' head to make the infamous "crown of thorns." And this plant is evil all the way through, as its sap will irritate skin and can be toxic if ever ingested. Though it you ever eat this thorny nightmare, you might experience some other problems as well.
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A great name for any death metal album, this climbing shrub grows 3 to 5 feet high and sends heavily armed branches in every direction. Originally from Madagascar, it usually needs support and looks for other plants or a fence to hold it up. Crimson summer flowers are but a beautiful face in front of the insidious matrix of thorns beneath.
Supposedly, a circle of Euphorbia was placed on Jesus' head to make the infamous "crown of thorns." And this plant is evil all the way through, as its sap will irritate skin and can be toxic if ever ingested. (If you do ever eat this thorny nightmare, you might experience some other problems as well.)
Pyracantha is ready to do battle with just about anything you could throw at it, which including those pruning shears. It's armed with needle-sharp spikes every few inches along its stems and branches, and the final armaments are growing tips that are 4-inch-long hypodermics. It's common name—firethorn—is no joke.
Pyracantha can grow 10 feet tall and nearly as wide. It's a hardy plant that endures plenty of abuse, and it can spread quickly. You'll need to be ready for battle if you hope to save your yard from this thorny beast.
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Pyracantha is ready to go to battle with just about anything you could throw at it, which includes those pruning shears. It's armed with needle-sharp spikes every few inches along its stems and branches, and features tips with 4-inch-long hypodermics.
Firethorn can grow 10 feet tall and nearly as wide. It's a hardy plant that endures plenty of abuse, and it can spread quickly. You'll need to be ready for battle if you hope to save your yard from this thorny beast.
Nobody's climbing this tree, which can grow 60 to 90 feet tall, because the rough bark of the honey locust is often covered with 6-inch dagger-like thorns—it's the Michael Myers of plants. Botanists say the thorns evolved to protect the tree from giant sloths and short-faced bears that roamed North America thousands of years ago. Although these pre-historical fauna are no longer around, the flora's deadly defense still are.
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Nobody's climbing this tree, which can grow 60 to 90 feet tall, because the rough bark of the honey locust is often covered with 6-inch dagger-like thorns—it's the Freddy Krueger of plants. Botanists say the thorns evolved to protect the tree from giant sloths and short-faced bears that roamed North America thousands of years ago. Although these pre-historical fauna are no longer around, the flora's deadly defenses still are.
Mahonia may have bright evergreen leaves, but don't let that cheery foliage catch you unawares. Each waxy leaf is rimmed with Lilliputian spines that easily penetrate clothing, including leather. The shrub produces dense foliage that can be shaped into a hedge, but at least its clusters of edible blue-black berries are a late-season treat.
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Mahonia may have bright evergreen leaves, but don't let that cheery foliage catch you unaware. Each waxy leaf is rimmed with Lilliputian spines that easily penetrate clothing, including leather. The shrub produces dense foliage that can be shaped into a hedge, but at least its clusters of edible blue-black berries are a late-season treat.
It'd be hard to find a more aggressive-looking combo of leaves and stems than Solanum, aka devil's thorn, a hardy shrub that can grow 5 feet tall. Some species contain a toxic alkaloid that, if ingested, can cause serious sickness and even death. As if those spines weren't bad-ass enough.
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It would be hard to find a more aggressive-looking combo of leaves and stems than Solanum, aka devil's thorn, a hardy shrub that can grow 5 feet tall. Some species contain a toxic alkaloid that, if ingested, can cause serious sickness and even death. As if those spines weren't badass enough.
A rose by any other name would be just as ornery. Whatever type you grow—garden, climbing, ground cover—you'll get a beautiful flowering plant with unsurpassed irascibility. As you've likely experienced before, roses draw blood, and they enjoy it. Trail climbers over fences and add garden roses and ground cover to the sunny sides of the house.
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A rose by any other name would be just as ornery. Whatever type you grow—garden, climbing, ground cover—you'll get a beautiful flowering plant with unsurpassed irascibility. As you've likely experienced before, roses draw blood, and they enjoy it. Trail climbers over fences and add garden roses and ground cover to the sunny sides of the house.