East Texas experiences a humid subtropical climate with warm summers and cooler winters. While the lower portion of East Texas consists of temperate grassland, the upper area is part of the Piney Woods. This Texas region belongs in United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Zones 7 to 9. East Texas gardeners should choose shrubs according to bloom time, mature age and general culture. Several thorny bushes commonly thrive in East Texas gardens and lawns.
The guajillo bush (Acacia berlandieri), a honey plant in the pea family (Fabaceae), thrives on East Texas hillsides. Also called the berlandier acacia, this shrub bears sharp thorns, bean pods and green, fern-like leaves. White flower clusters bloom from February through April. These fragrant plants produce a pale honey. Mature guajillo shrubs reach between 3 and 15 feet in height. This plant prefers dry soils in partly shady to fully sunny locations.
The amargosa shrub (Castela texana), also called the Texan goatbush, belongs to the Simaroubaceae plant family. This bush features hairy, green leaves and bitter, gray bark. Tiny red or orange flowers bloom from March through May. These blossoms give way to fleshy, red fruits loved by birds. The amargosa bush naturally occurs in East Texas prairies. This perennial likes dry soils in part shade positions.
The hog plum (Colubrina texensis), sometimes called the Texas Snakewood, generally reaches between 3 and 6 feet in height. This rounded shrub of the buckthorn family (Rhamnaceae) bears hairy, green leaves, spiny thorns and gray bark that features a snakeskin pattern. Non-showy, yellow-green flowers bloom from May through July, followed by red-brown to black fruit commonly eaten by wildlife. This perennial plant naturally occurs in brushy, dry areas. The drought-tolerant hog plum prefers dry, well-drained soils in partially shady to sunny locations. East Texas gardeners often use this shrub as a compact hedge.
Allthorn bushes (Koeberlinia spinosa), sometimes called crucifixion thorn bushes, contain tangled, thorny branches. This shrub bears tiny leaves and green-white flowers that bloom from March until November. Clusters of black, glossy berries follow the blossoms. The allthorn thrives in various soils, but requires fully sunny locations. Mature shrubs reach up to 8 feet in height and 6 feet in spread. Some East Texans plant the allthron shrub as a barrier hedge.
Colima shrubs (Xanthoxylum Fagara), also called wild limes and lime prickly ash, is a thorny shrub that performs well in the hot, dry East Texas climate. This plant features tiny, yellow-green spring flowers that give way to bright yellow or red seed capsules. Both the fruit and the flowers have a citrus-like aroma. This member of the Rutaceae plant family prefers partially to fully sunny locations. Colima bushes grow between 5 and 20 feet in height and 3 to 12 feet in width.